Tens of thousands of defiant runners turned out to pound the pavements in the first major city center event since 22 people were killed by Manchester bomber. There were initial fears the Great Manchester Run would be abandoned after the atrocity on Monday night. But organizers vowed the annual event for 40,000 would go ahead amid heightened security. Officers armed with assault rifles were dotted around the course, standing guard as runners trotted by watched by huge crowds who lined the route. A day after 50,000 watched Courtneeners perform at a homecoming gig at the Old Trafford, the home of Lancashire County Cricket Club, the city’s streets were packed with elite runners, children and amateurs. The event comes 6 days after Salman Abedi blew himself up at Manchester Arena as thousands were piling out of the venue having watched Ariana Grande, killing 22 and injuring at least 119.
The junior races kicked off this morning and before the main race the runners fell silent for a minute to remember the victims of Monday attack. As well as elite runners, charity runners took part to raise money for a number of causes, including a fund for the families of the Manchester bombing’s victims. Those running were determined to show they wouldn’t bow to terror. Matthew Hayhurst posted a pic of himself arm in arm with his family simply with the caption ‘We are not afraid’. Each are wearing a message on their backs with their names followed by ‘is not afraid’. David Hart told ‘Whether running it, watching it, or working it, here’s to the Grea Manchester Run and our chance to show the resolve of this great city.’ Another runner, Matt, told ‘Proudly running the streets of Manchester this weekend in the Great Manchester Run. We won’t let these people win, we stand together.’
The half marathon got under way at 9 Am while the larger 10k started at 12:45pm. Among those running the half marathon was Manchester United legend Bryan Robson, who was running for the Kirsty appeal and said the Manchester Evening News ‘I’m obviously doing this for the victims of the terror attack and the people of Manchester. It’s always a great occasion, but it’s even more important this year because of what happened. This is what Manchester people are like. They’ve come out, united together and still want to try and enjoy themselves even though everyone’s condolences go to the families.’
Devout Liverpudlian comedian John Bishop embodied the unification of the city by coming out to support Mancunians and before setting off to run told ‘I lived in Manchester for 20 years of my life and everything that’s important to me came from Manchester, my wife, my kids are from here, I started comedy here and I ran this race 10 years ago. When I heard about the events of this week, I think it just felt important for me to be here and show a sense of solidarity.’
Former WBA lightweight world champion Anthony Crolla ran again this year, having been a mainstay at event, and he said Manchester Evening News ‘This year I think more than ever I want to do this run after what happened on Monday night because it shows the togetherness of the city. The response of the tragedy has shown how strong we are as Mancunians and we’ve had support from up and down the country.’
As the defiant runners swelled the population of city, the investigation into deranged killer Salman Abedi and his suspected network of terrorists continues. CCTV photos have been revealed showing the murderer just minutes before he detonated his homemade bomb on his way to Manchester Arena. Despite an obvious hatred of the West, Abedi was wearing £150 Nike Air Jordan trainers and a Hollister body warmer, two American clothing brands.
The Great Manchester Run went ahead as:
- More arrests were made in Moss Side as police raided yet another property, taking the total arrests up to 14;
- CCTV images were released of Salman Abedi sauntering towards Manchester Arena just minutes before he massacred 22 people;
- Calls were made by a Muslim former police chief to give authorities the power to detain terror suspects indefinitely and without trial
- Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said that the ‘fast moving and complex investigation’ had made ‘significant progress’
- SAS trained security guards were dispatched to the Costa del Sol to protect British tourists
- It was claimed MI5 was warned by the FBI in January that Abedi was planning an attack in Britain
- Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Britain can expect more terrorist atrocities if Jeremy Corbyn becomes Prime Minister
- The bomber’s younger brother allegedly confessed to involvement in the plot and was planning his own attack on a UN support mission to Libya
- Police made further arrests, taking the total to 13 and later evacuated an area of Moss Side in Manchester as bomb disposal officers searched an address
- The UK terrorism threat level was reduced from critical to severe, indicating an attack is highly likely, but not expected imminently.
It appears to run in the family as his younger brother was planning an attack on United Nations special envoy. Reports says Hashem Abedi, 20 years old, had plotted to assassinate Martin Kobler, the head of the UN Support Mission in Libya, during a visit to Tripoli earlier this year. The terrorist cell were thought to be in later stages of plan, but it was foiled before it could be executed. The Islamic extremist group had been monitored for some months by Libyan security services who believe the younger Abedi brother is a ‘significant player. He was arrested at the Abedi family home in Tripoli on Tuesday and is being interrogated by MI6 and Libyan intelligence over his role in Manchester Arena bombing last Monday. As a result of Monday night’s attack, a Muslim former police chief has declared thousands of radical extremists must be locked up in new internment camps to protect Britain from unprecedented terror threat it faces. Writing exclusively on Sunday, Tarique Ghaffur warns there are too many extremists on the streets for police and MI5 officers to monitor. Mr Ghaffur, an Assistant Commissioner at Scotland Yard when the 7/7 bombings took place, proposes that special centers be set up to detain as many as 3,000 extremists, where they can be kept from launching attacks. They would also be made to go through a de-radicalisation programmed.