Olympic Prospect Jess Coulson to run inaugural Manchester Half Marathon this autumn

Manchester Marathon running crowd

Jess Coulson (handicap -0.1), last year’s British champion and Rio 2016 hopeful, has fired the starting gun on behalf of elite runners for the first ever Manchester Half Marathon.

The 25-year-old Stockport Harrier has confirmed her entry for the Xtra Mile Events organised race on Sunday October 16, starting and finishing at Emirates Old Trafford Lancashire County Cricket Club.


By that stage Jess, a researcher at Manchester Metropolitan University, hopes to have celebrated an Olympic Games debut.


And nothing would give her greater pleasure than returning from South America to add the inaugural Manchester Half Marathon title to her growing list of credits.


Last year’s success at the Cardiff Half Marathon which doubled up as the British Champs, brought her a notable career highlight. Also in 2015 Jess, a confirmed Manchester City fan, scored another victory at the English 10K Championships.


However, a roller coaster 12 months also included a season ending foot injury during the Frankfurt Marathon when poised to gain a Rio qualification standard.


This month (March) Jess returned to competitive action for the first time in five months, desperate to make up for lost time.


The gold post box, erected to celebrate the success of Paralympic cyclist Dame Sarah Storey at London 2012 and which she passes every day in her home village of Disley, is a continual source of inspiration.


“It’s a really big year for me,” acknowledges Great Britain international Jess. “And the Manchester Half Marathon is a big part of my plans.


“I always thought there should be a half marathon to go with the Manchester Marathon. It is the perfect distance for a female like me to run to our capability if we are not training for a marathon


“Besides Manchester is such a great city and I have been here most of my life so I would love to come home with a win.


“But my main focus at the moment is trying to qualify for Rio,” adds Jess, a European Cross Country Championship Under 23 winner in 2012.


“I was hoping to make the marathon team but I need to concentrate on the shorter distances for now. That’s why I am aiming for the 10000 metres trials at Highgate in May.”


Jess chased a marathon qualification time in Frankfurt last October and after 32 kilometres (20 miles) was well placed to achieve a necessary clocking of 2hrs 31 minutes.


Instead, she tore the plantar fascia muscle in her foot and had to drop out. “It was all going swimmingly,” she recalled.


“I was running with a German athlete, Lisa Hahner, who eventually ran 2:28.39, and I would have been in the same region.


“I had never dropped out of a race before and it was demoralising. The positive is it indicated I am capable of that qualification time in the future.”


Jess’s injury also prevented her taking up an invitation for this month’s IAAF World Half Marathon Championships in Cardiff. But a ticket to Rio will be ample compensation.


“The Olympic 10K Trial is on May 21 and the top two will get selected if you have done the time.


“There are 10 or 20 girls who are capable of getting up there so it will be anyone’s race on the day. It won’t be easy but if everything goes to plan I will be in the mix.”


Jess will certainly be one of the favourites for the women’s race at the Manchester Half Marathon, one of the flattest and fastest half marathons with only 41m elevation gain and a 2 mile+ finish straight.


The course will take runners through Old Trafford, Stretford, Brooklands and Sale. Entry costs £27 for affiliated athletes and £29 for unaffiliated athletes with £1 per runner going into the Trafford Athlete Fund, set-up to benefit gifted and talented young athletes in the Trafford borough.


In addition, all finishers receive a medal, a t-shirt with a unique Manchester design, and a goody bag.


The Manchester Half Marathon starts and finishes at the Emirates Old Trafford Lancashire County Cricket Club, and the organisers are promising lots of entertainment and outstanding crowd support. Entries are open.

Go to www.manchesterhalfmarathon.com for further race details and to sign up now, like the Facebook page www.facebook.com/manchesterhalfmarathon and follow @manchesterhalf #ManchesterHalf on Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest news.

For help with training for this event, go to our Training and Advice section.

Click here for a training programme to get round the half marathon

Click here for a training programme to run the half marathon in under 95 minutes

Click here for a training programme to run the half marathon in under 85 minutes