Image courtesy of Wiggle Manchester Half

The rain did little to deter a record 15,000 runners from completing the 13.1-mile Wiggle Manchester Half on Sunday 13th October, with a number of personal and world records set out on the course.

The North West’s biggest half marathon saw runners of all ages and abilities run the route featuring a new section through Chorlton Village, starting and finishing near Old Trafford, including one woman who completed the race backwards.

Shantelle Gaston-Hird set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest female to complete a half marathon running backwards, crossing the finish line in a time of 02:16:08. Salford-based sport therapist, Shantelle shaved 3:37 minutes off the previous record held by Justine Galloway of San Diego. Led by two guide runners Simon Blakemore and Nigel Holmes, Shantelle said the race was her “best yet”, not only for the record time but her experience out on the course with a nice flat route and incredible support from her fellow runners. The time will now be ratified by Guinness World Records before it is added to the official record books.

A keen ‘retro-runner’ for its reputed benefits of injury prevention and strength-building, Shantelle has already completed five marathons, eight ultra-marathons and two other half-marathons backwards. She said today’s event was a way to reclaim the world record (which she held from March 2017 to January 2019), whilst raising money and awareness for the mental health charity Young Minds.

“I want to show others it is ok to stand out from the crowd. Who wants to be ‘normal’ anyway. The charity I am supporting helps children and young adults with their mental health. If we can give them the tools to help manage their mental health at a young age just imagine all the incredible things they can achieve in the future.”

The Wiggle Manchester Half has been growing year-on-year, attracting 1,000 more runners than last year, including a mixture of elite runners, wheelchair athletes and amateur runners aiming to tick it off their bucket list.

Seeing off runners at the start line this year was Andy Reid, of St Helens, an ex-soldier and triple amputee who lost his right leg below the knee, left leg above the knee and right arm in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in October 2009. Sunday marked 10 years to the day since his injury and as a mark of respect, the ABF Soldiers’ Charity arranged for a number of soldiers to run the event in his honour.

“It’s great to see people getting out here, being active and supporting charities. Particularly the wheelchair athletes, I’ve been there and know how hard it is so I’ve got massive respect for what they do. I’m here on behalf of the ABF Soldiers’ Charity, they’ve done so much to support me and so it’s great to be able to give back whenever I can.”

Nick Rusling, CEO of Human Race, the organisation behind the Manchester Half Marathon, said, “Mancunians feel a sense of ownership of the Wiggle Manchester Half and we see it year-on-year with the incredible support for runners out on the course. The half marathon distance is no easy feat, but we’re proud to be able to provide runners of all ages and abilities a welcoming race environment where they can feel a real sense of achievement crossing the finish line. It’s a fast and flat course where our elite runners really come into their own and we’ve seen that today with many achieving new personal bests. We hope to see everyone back next year and hopefully some new faces looking to give it a go.”

Elite winners

Ben Connor of Derby won the elite men’s race with a time of 01:03:12, with Wayany Gherbeilasie of Shettleston Harriers taking second place with a time of 1:04:06 and Frank Baddick of Newham and Essex Beagles coming in third position at 1:04:18.

Commenting on his return from Doha and first appearance at the half marathon, Ben said, “The wet conditions were certainly testing, and a little different to Doha, but it was a great atmosphere out there on the course. I was really pleased with my performance today, I kicked in for the win around mile six. All good preparation for next week’s Great South Run.”

Lily Partridge of Surrey won the elite women’s race with a time of 01:13:45, with Jip Vastenburg of New Balance Manchester taking second place with a time of 01:14:18 and Elinor Kirk of Swansea Harriers coming in third position at 01:16:13.

Lily said: “Today was about testing my body and getting a good run in the bag. Coming back from injury, I’ve had a strong four to five weeks of prep so I was really pleased with my consistent pace through the race. Spectator support was incredible, even with the rain.”

Samuel Kolek of Poland won the elite men’s wheelchair race with a time of 52:50, with Joshua Hartley of Coventry Godiva Harriers taking second place with a time of 55:49 and Anton Shepard of Kirkby Milers AC coming in third position at 55:51.

Ellie Page of Coventry Godiva Harriers won the elite women’s wheelchair race with a time of 01:19:42, with Elizabeth McTernan taking second place with a time of 01:24:56 and Chloe Couture of Team Ladybugs coming in third position at 01:59:29.

New title partner for 2020

Tommy’s will become the event’s new title partner and headline charity for 2020, with funds set to make a vital impact to the local Manchester area.

The event will next year be known as the 2020 Tommy’s Manchester Half, with money raised going towards the charity’s work at St Mary’s Hospital. The work undertaken at the Tommy’s Research Centre and Rainbow Clinic, St Mary’s Hospital has driven landmark understanding of stillbirth and cared for local pregnant women after previous stillbirth, reducing stillbirth rate in the Manchester region by 34% since 2010.

The Tommy’s Manchester Half will take place on Sunday 11th October 2020. A limited number of early entries will be made available today for those who wish to support Tommy’s. General entries will then open on Tuesday 15th October 2019.

For more information, or to enter next year’s event go to