The organisers of the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon, which will celebrate its 40th edition on 10th April 2016, have announced a new initiative funded from the success of the 2015 race. They have teamed up with Trafford Council to launch a new initiative to identify, develop and support the sporting careers of the Borough’s most promising young athletes.
The Xtra Mile Events-Trafford Athlete Fund was announced last Thursday as Greater Manchester’s running fraternity gathered at Hotel Football to officially declare next year’s 26 miles 385 yards race open for business.
Runners have until 31st October to take advantage of reduced price, early bird places for the ‘UK’s Best Marathon’ as voted for two years in succession by runners at The Running Awards. Early bird places cost £48 for affiliated runners and £50 for unaffiliated runners and wheelchair entries.
First staged in 1908, the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon is enjoying an unprecedented upturn in popularity since revived by Xtra Mile Events in 2012. The race grew by 33% from 2014 to 2015, and with an increased number of 15,000 places for 2016 a sell-out is forecast. The economic benefit to the area in 2014 was worth £4.8m and is forecasted to rise in 2016 to £6.1m.
Local runners, attracted by a British-only prize fund, are keen to return the title to the region after London based, New Zealander Paul Martelletti succeeded Altrincham & District star, Dave Norman (2012, 2013) and Stockport Harrier Andi Jones -now living in Qatar- as champion. The respective men’s and ladies champions will each receive a record £2,000 first prize with scaled down awards to 10th place. There are additional bonuses for fast times including £10,000 for a sub 2hrs 10 mins clocking.
It is hoped recipients of funding from the newly created Xtra Mile Events-Trafford Athlete Fund may one day cross the finish line outside Manchester United’s Old Trafford stadium as a future champion.
Grants are available at Gold (up to £1,000), Silver (up to £500) and Bronze (up to £250) levels to help promising and talented competitors (aged 18 and under), who live within the Trafford boundary to realize their potential and progress in their chosen sport.
By building on the Borough’s top class facilities and leading professional clubs, the Trafford Sport & Physical Activity Partnership is working to harness the many benefits sport and physical activity can bring to local communities in Trafford.
Councillor Michael Cornes, Trafford Council’s lead member for Sports, Culture and Leisure, said: ”Sport is an incredibly important part of Trafford’s history and the Trafford Athlete Fund is a great initiative with the right target market.
“It enables us to do something a little bit different, not just for athletes but for aspiring youngsters in other sports. Our aim is help them reach their full potential and meet their aspirational future goals and to make them realize they are not on their own.
”This could be by supporting additional coaching, providing better quality equipment or helping towards travel costs. The fund is designed to meet the needs of the athlete as opposed to enforcing rigid criteria on the actual returns.
“Our aim is to grow the initiative just like the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon has grown. I hope we can achieve support from the business community to help swell the fund.
“We’ve set a deadline of January 18, 2016 for the first batch of grant applications but there will be other chances to apply moving forward.”
Trafford is host Borough to the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon which is the perfect race for first time marathoners, charity runners and those seeking a PB or qualifying time. It is also renowned for its huge crowd and community support and unique entertainment programme around the course. The 2016 race will incorporate the Half/Half and 4 Leg Team Relays again, allowing teams of two or four runners to share the marathon distance between them.
Cancer Research UK, The Christie charity and Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity are the Official Charities for the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon 2016. Over a quarter of the runners in 2015 ran for charitable causes, raising a total of £1.7m.
Race Director Simon Hill commented: “I am hugely excited and it gets better every year. To see the marathon transformed into a major international sporting event is fantastic.
“The prize fund for 2016 has been almost tripled and with it being the 40th anniversary, we want to attract the very best British marathon runners. London has got a pull but British runners don’t get the attention they deserve and we decided to reward the top athletes who are coming to race with us.
“We are already over indexing on the proportion of fast times to the number of runners. London has five times as many runners but they only have three times as many sub-three hours runners. And we want that to come down even more.
“This British only prize fund is hugely supported by British runners and the athletics clubs. We are very happy that ASICS continues as the title sponsor for the race and we are looking forward to unveiling further partners and sponsors shortly.
“But the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon isn’t just for top runners. Our flat course makes it ideal for first time marathon runners and in 2015 38 percent of the field ran the distance for the first time.
“We are attracting entrants from all over the UK with 70 percent coming from outside Greater Manchester. In addition, the number of international athletes doubled in 2015.”
Stockport Harrier Bashir Hussain, a Manchester Marathon winner in 1996, 1997 and 1998, recalled: ”I really enjoyed the first and last of those victories but hit the wall in the second.
“They were big moments in my career. If I had a regret it would be they didn’t receive the same profile and there weren’t as many runners taking part as there are today.
“Obviously, the course is outstanding so I will have to train a bit harder if I want to win it now at my age,” laughed the 50-year-old who clocked a best of 2hrs 19 mins in 1997.
Please visit www.greatermanchestermarathon.com for further race details and to sign up now.
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