Supermum Jo Pavey will get the chance to complete an historic hat-trick of titles when she returns to road racing action in the Morrisons Great Manchester Run on Sunday May 10.
Pavey hit the headlines last summer when she won Commonwealth 5,000m bronze and European 10,000m gold on the track as a 40-year-old mother of two. Now 41, the Exeter Harrier intends to mix road and track competition in 2015 and the Morrisons Great Manchester Run will be her first major road race since 2012.
She won the elite women's section of Europe's biggest 10km road race in 2007 and 2008 and a third success in 2015 would make the hugely popular West Country athlete the first female to complete a hat-trick of victories in Manchester.
Only two other women have won the prestigious IAAF Gold Label event twice. Former world 10,000m champion Berhane Adere (2003 and 2006) and three-time Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba (2013 and 2014). There has only been one winner of the elite men's race to have won more than three times, another Ethiopian great, Haile Gebrselassie, who has racked up a total of five victories.
“I am really excited about racing the Morrisons Great Manchester Run, not least because I thought 2015 was going to be the year that I retired,” said Pavey, whose double medal success last summer - less than a year after the birth of her second child, Emily – rightly persuaded her to defer plans to draw a line under her top-level racing career.
“To be thinking about competing in events like the Great Manchester Run is such a massive bonus for me, when I thought I'd be hanging up my racing shoes. It's a great race and a great opportunity for me.
I'm really excited about getting out and racing on the roads again. It was something I couldn't do last year because of the two major championships and having to qualify for them.
Getting back on the roads is a real motivating factor for me and racing in Manchester is really exciting. It's a great course – fast and flat –and it's always a very competitive race. The crowds are great, too, and there will be thousands of people running for their great charities.”
A field of up to 40,000 is again expected for an event that will be televised live by the BBC, and which will feature another Fortysomething trailblazer in the elite men's race, former world 1500m and 5,000m champion Bernard Lagat of the USA.
Like Lagat, who turned 40 in December, Pavey's main focus this year will be the IAAF World Championships in Beijing in August. However, the European 10,000m champion intends to split her attention between track racing and road running this year.
“I very much see this year as an opportunity to mix track with road,” said Pavey. “Last year I had to focus solely on the track and really missed road racing. This year is a chance to mix the two because next year I'll have to refocus on the track again.
Obviously I would love to try and qualify for the Olympics in 2016, although I'm not complacent about that. It will be hard to get on the British team because there are a lot of good girls coming through.”
Pavey has competed for Britain at the last four Olympic Games. Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.
Her medal-winning heroics in Glasgow and Zurich last year helped to earn her third spot in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award – behind Lewis Hamilton and Rory McIlroy. She has also been shortlisted for the Comeback of the Year prize in the 2015 Laureus World Sports Awards, which are to be announced in Shanghai on April 14.