The Great North Run is one of the most popular half marathons in the world, attracting tens of thousands of participants from all over the globe every year. It is held annually in the city of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in the North East of England, and finishes in the coastal town of South Shields. The first Great North Run was held in 1981, and since then it has become a well-established and beloved event in the running calendar.
The Great North Run was the brainchild of former Olympic 10,000 metre bronze medalist Brendan Foster. Foster was born and raised in the North East of England, and he had always been passionate about running. After retiring from competitive athletics, he wanted to create an event that would encourage people of all abilities to take up running and to promote the North East to a wider audience.
Foster’s idea was to create a half marathon that started in Newcastle and ended in South Shields, following the course of the Tyne river. The route would take runners past some of the North East’s most iconic landmarks, including the Tyne Bridge, the Sage music centre and the famous beaches of South Shields. The event would be open to anyone over the age of 17, regardless of ability, and would be a celebration of community, fitness and fun.
Foster’s vision was to create an event that would bring people together from all walks of life, while also raising money for charity. The first Great North Run was held on 28 June 1981, and it attracted around 12,000 runners. The race was won by British runner Mike McLeod, who set a new world record time for a half marathon of 1:03:12. Since then, the Great North Run has grown exponentially, with over 57,000 runners taking part in 2018.
Over the years, the Great North Run has played host to some of the biggest names in world athletics. Runners such as Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe and Haile Gebrselassie have all competed in the event, and many have set new records and achieved personal bests. The Great North Run also attracts runners of all ages and abilities, from experienced athletes to first-time runners, and is famous for its raucous and supportive atmosphere.
The Great North Run has also become a significant fundraising event for charities. Participants are encouraged to raise money for a variety of causes, and over the years the event has raised millions of pounds for a range of local and national charities. In recent years, the Great North Run has focused on fundraising for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, a cancer charity set up by the former England and Newcastle manager, who himself died from cancer in 2009.
Overall, the Great North Run has become a symbol of the North East of England, which has always been known for its friendly, welcoming culture. It is an event that brings people together, promotes fitness and healthy living, and raises money for worthy causes. It is also an event that celebrates the region’s history, landscape and culture, and attracts visitors from all over the world.