Here in South Shields, in the North East of the UK we are very proud of lots of things; Arbeia Roman Fort (c129 AD), the world’s oldest Marine School, the world’s first purpose designed and built lifeboat, the world’s first purpose designed and built ships lifeboat davits, film director Ridley Scott, Formula 1’s Frank Williams, prolific novelist Catherine Cookson and the finish of the Great North Run.
The Great North Run is the largest half marathon in the world, taking place annually in North East England every September. Participants run between Newcastle upon Tyne and South Shields. The run was devised by former Olympic 10,000 m bronze medalist and BBC Sport commentator Brendan Foster.
The first Great North Run was advertised as a local fun run and was staged on 28 June 1981, when 12,000 runners participated. Last Sunday, 9th September 2018, the number of registered participants had risen to 57,000, although they are not all expected to start, and it has become one of the biggest running events in the world, certainly the biggest in the UK.
Whilst the Elite Races, which set off before the main race, for both Men and Women certainly help to promote the event, the main objective of the fun run continues to be targeted at ordinary people who want to raise money for charities and other good causes by taking on the fairly grueling challenge of running or jogging along 13.1 miles of roadway that are by no means flat along the full length of the course. However, every runner interviewed expressed delight at the unbelievable crowds of local people who came out and lined the route to cheer them on and give them encouragement to achieve their objective of reaching the finish line. Something that the exceptionally friendly North East folk are renowned for.
The first participants to set off are the blind runners and their helpers and the male and female wheelchair racers, who zip along really fast.
This year the run had a special theme to ‘Celebrate Local Heroes’ and before the run began television viewers were introduced to a whole host of people who either talked about their own moving experiences or about other people with equally emotional circumstances, with personal bravery be the main factor in all of them.
There is just so much going on, not just involving the potential 57,000 runners but also the many friends and family members who are supporting them. Probably about £10m must have been raised for the various charities.
The men’s Elite race was won by Sir Mo Farah for a record fifth year in a row, with a time of 59 minutes and 26 seconds. New Zealand’s Jake Robertson was 31 seconds back in second place.
Vivian Cheruiyot from Kenya won the women’s race for a second time in three years and David Weir set a new course record to win the men’s wheelchair race for the seventh time, with Martyna Snopek taking the women’s wheelchair race.
We congratulate everyone who completed the course and have to say that we were very proud indeed to be hosting them at the finishing line and after the race, here in South Shields.
Top Image – Every year the Royal Air Force support the event with an impressively stunning fly-past over the Tyne Bridge by the world famous Red Arrows aerial display team.
Later in the day they enthralled the crowds at the seafront finishing area in South Shields, when they performed their full death defying aerial display over the North Sea.
Above Image – This is what the event is all about. Just some of the expected 57,000 fun runners who were set to have an exhausting but worthwhile and enjoyable day whilst raising much needed money for a deserving charity of their choice.
Above Image – With around 2 miles still to go, Sir Mo Farah is cheered on by enthusiastic crowds, including Solar Solve’s MD, Julie Lightfoot, who is top left in the pink jacket. The fun run passes right by Julie’s house.
Above Image – Sir Mo Farah winning the men’s Elite race for a record fifth year in a row, with a time of 59 minutes and 26 seconds. Sir Mo narrowly missed out on his half marathon personal best time of 59 minutes and 22 seconds, which he set when winning his second Great North Run title in 2015.
Above Image – The vast area at South Shields magnificent seafront that accommodated the 57,000 participants that were expected to finish the fun run, along with friends and family members who were supporting them.