A team of ten runners with inspirational stories have been chosen to take part in the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon as part of “Team Vassos”.

Broadcaster and running enthusiast Vassos Alexander, the official ambassador of the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon, has selected the team of runners who will enjoy a VIP experience of the event in April which includes free state-of-the-art ASICS athletic wear.

Potential team members who had signed up to the marathon were urged to post a video of themselves explaining their inspiration for taking part in this year’s event. These were then narrowed down to come up with a top 10.

Professionally-produced videos of their stories will be featured on social media in the run up to the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon in April under the #DONTSTOPMENOW campaign banner.

Vassos said: “Everyone who takes up the challenge of running a 26.2mile race has a story to tell, and choosing just ten from a field of hundreds of applicants was even more difficult than running an ultra-marathon.

“Choosing wasn’t about who was fastest but about who best captures the spirit of marathon running. I’m delighted to have been involved with this process and look forward to working with each and every one of the members of Team Vassos.”

The ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon is organised by Xtra Mile Events in partnership with Trafford Council. Other event partners include Optimum Nutrition, Emirates Old Trafford, Lancashire County Cricket Club, Hilton Garden Inn, Erdinger Alkoholfrei, Official National Charities such as Cancer Research UK, Alzheimer’s Society, JustGiving, and local charities including The Christie’s & Royal Manchester

Children’s Hospital. The ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon takes place on Sunday 8th April 2018.

Members of Team Vassos are:

Duncan Skelton

Mancunian turned New Yorker Duncan Skelton is flying home to take part in the Asics Greater Manchester Marathon. Duncan only took up running after moving to the Big Apple, where he has overcome injury and surgeries to complete the New York marathon three times while raising £29,000 for charity. Not only this, but the course of the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon will take him full circle past his old home in Sale.

Steve Bassam

The ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon will mark the 100th 26.2 mile run for 65-year-old Steve Bassam, who was told almost 15 years ago he would likely spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair. Coming through great pain and surgeries, Steve overcame a diagnosis of severe rheumatoid arthritis and took to running to get himself back to fitness. He has chosen his home city to run his 100th alongside his Middleton Harriers Running Club-mates where he expects the finish of the race to be an emotional one.

Brenda Blackett

Manchester-based Brenda Blackett was bullied at school due to her size and not being very sporty. After she lost four stone she decided to take up running. Following her first Park Run in 2016, she then signed up to the Manchester 10k last year then completed the Manchester Half Marathon in October. She aims to complete the ‘treble’ at the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon while raising funds for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Marcin Soszka

Self-named ‘Marathon Man’ Marcin Soszka had meant to run the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon last year until a misshap with a bus the day before the race was due to take place put him in hospital with a broken nose, ribs and stitches to his head. Race organisers Xtra Mile Events invited him back to try again this year, and Marcin is now on course to complete his dream of running the marathon in every capital city in Europe, including Rome, Berlin, London and Paris. He believes 2018 is his year as he finishes his 100 marathon challenge in his home city of Warsaw in Poland in September – but first it will be Manchester in April.

Ashley Lee

Bolton-based Ashley Lee is running to increase awareness of mental health issues. After losing several friends to suicide, Ashley decided enough was enough and had to do something about it. Ashley first donned his trainers at the end of 2016 to raise money for charity. He found that running not only improved his own sense of wellbeing, but it also brought mental health awareness into his daily discussions with friends. The ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon will be Ashley’s first marathon, and Team Vassos look forward to training with him.

Hannah O’Brien

Hannah O’Brien uses running as her tool to keep her anxiety and depression under control. It’s her therapy, and the post-run adrenaline is a natural energy boost that she lives for, and running relieves her of stress and tension. Hannah wanted to set herself a goal, and the ASICS Manchester Marathon will be her first marathon.

Martin Haworth

Martin Haworth from North Lincolnshire is running the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon against all odds. Last year Martin suffered a heart attack, and was very lucky to survive. He had a 95% blockage to one of his coronary arteries which meant fast treatment was needed, and Martin had to have two heart stents fitted.

Although he was told by many to take it easy, Martin wanted to show people that getting back out there and being active is one of the best things you can do. Having found a group of like-minded people in the Cardiac Athletes, Martin wants to show that there is life after a heart attack, and that you can be active and ambitious – anything is possible.

Sabria Behilil

Sabria Behilil says she can’t explain the way running makes her feel, but it fills her soul with a happiness that nothing else can deliver. Running the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon will be her fourth marathon race.

Christina Holland

70-year-old Christina Holland wants to run the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon to show people how important it is to keep active. Christina only started running at the age of 64, since then she has had three major operations to her feet. She also received the bad news that she had skin cancer on her face, which resulted in invasive surgery. The running enthusiast wants to show people how important skincare and skin protection is, and wants to encourage as many people as possible to join her in staying fit and healthy.

Adriana Wild (pictured)

Canadian junior high school vice-principal Adriana Wild is one of the international runners taking part in the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon this year. The race will be Adriana’s 23rd marathon but her first outside of North America. She has chosen Manchester because her husband is from England and she will get to have her family in Greater Manchester supporting her throughout the course.