Community groups and local businesses in Stretford came together for the Manchester Marathon in the hope of creating the most supportive mile.

The marathon, which starts at the North West’s famous Pomona Docks, sees the final mile head through Trafford’s suburb of Stretford, and local residents are coming together to support the thousands of people descending onto the streets of Greater Manchester for the 26-mile challenge this weekend.

Local residents and friends of Forever Manchester from community groups and projects such as the Scouts, Gorgeous Gorse Hill, Friends of Stretford Public Hall, Friends of Victoria Park and more as well as Community Ambassadors Jennie Wadsworth and Lisa Heanley, created a great atmosphere for the runners’ final mile by playing music, offering refreshments and chanting and cheering on what was sure to be the toughest mile for the runners as they headed home to the finish line.

Of the importance of support at the final mile, Sarah Gregory from Stretford Nature Explorers said: “When they come back through Stretford, it’s the final mile, when support must be most vital, and Stretford can step up to that challenge.”

Groups were at various locations across Stretford:

  • Gorgeous Gorse Hill, Gorse Hill Studios, Little Belters & The Brakes will be at Gorse Hill Park on Talbot Road
  • Stretford Public Hall and Friends of Victoria Park will be at Stretford Public Hall on Chester Road
  • Longford Community Choir will be at the Robin Hood on Barton Road
  • Victoria Park School and Sammi Stephenson will be at Gleaves and the end of Derbyshire Lane
  • The Scouts will be on Pinnington Lane
  • Victoria Park Infant and Juniors School families will be on Chester Road at the Junction with Davyhulme Road East from 11am until 3pm, with flags, banners, cheerleaders and lots of noise.

There was a battle of the suburbs on the day, with Tameside and Altrincham also getting involved to have the most supportive mile. Ruth Hannan from Gorgeous Gorse Hill said: “It’s an opportunity to get everyone out doing something together with all the different community groups and initiatives in the area. Plus we want to beat Altrincham!”

As well as community groups and projects, local boozers The Sip Club and The Robin Hood will be getting involved on the day. Eileen Farrell from The Robin Hood said: “I think it’s important to engage the community from different angles. Families don’t stay together like they used to and in this time of cuts in services people need to get support in other ways. Many people are struggling to survive and having a great community spirit encourages people to help people they wouldn’t usually cross paths with.”

It’s great to see communities coming together and being passionate about major activities happening in their area. Coming together to show support and show off who the most supportive community is refreshing and something Forever Manchester loves shouting about.

This year’s Manchester Marathon was the biggest yet, which had a special half-hour show on Channel 4 and Forever Manchester would like to thank George Holden from The Renaissance, who took on the 26-mile challenge to raise money for Forever Manchester.

Of his run, George said: “The reason I chose Forever Manchester is my love for Manchester. I love the city where I come from, but also I really think it’s a great idea to spread funds across many causes, so Forever Manchester fits the bill. I’ve never ran a marathon before but I completed a half marathon when I was in the Army many years ago – plus I’m 29 this year and I wanted to get it done before I turn 30!”

Best of luck, George!