This weekend sees one of the biggest sporting events for the region, the Greater Manchester Marathon return to the North. You can find the route here
This is going to be a fantastic race, taking in countryside around Manchester as well as travelling past landmarks of the city, starting and finishing at Old Trafford.
With one of the flattest marathon routes in the world, Greater Manchester has a lot to offer the international running community and can hold its own alongside London, Boston, and others around the world. To add some local pizzazz, prizes have been offered by the 'Community Spirit Initiative' for the best entertainment, making this run a little different. They will perform along the route, and include every type of music, from Brooklands Samba Band to Altrincham Children’s Choir.
Every year the marathon is a special event that brings people together and celebrates achievement. This year is even more important; with the Boston bombing only two weeks ago, there will be an added sense of quiet defiance amongst the crowds.
I am pleased that there will be 26 seconds of silence before the race to mark the Boston bombings, and many runners will be wearing blue and yellow ribbons, the colours of the Boston Marathon. Greater Manchester Police have reviewed safety measures, but they are confident about security on the day, especially after the success of the London Marathon last weekend.
This Sunday will see thousands of people yet again choose to run together in defiance of those few who seek to terrorise and destroy. Yes, there are the elite athletes at the front, but this race is open to everyone, regardless of gender, class, race, age, or ability. That makes it something to be proud of.
I wrote recently about the importance of football to the Manchester Economy. The importance of sport goes beyond creating jobs helping people live a more healthy life. It also teaches discipline and setting goals.
Running is one sport that anyone can take up, and we should be encouraging as many people as possible to take up whichever sport they want to do, from cycling to rowing. This is why I have been campaigning for safer roads, to ensure people are able to exercise in safety, and I argued that British cycling should stay based in Manchester after 2014.
According to Sport England, since the Olympics, an extra 750,000 people have started playing sport than 12 months ago according to the latest Active People results by Sport England. This is good news, and big events like the Greater Manchester Marathon help inspire the whole community.