40 years of The Great North Run

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Welcome to our page about the Great North Run!

History of the Great North Run

The Great North Run itself was inspired by former Olympic 10,000m Bronze medallist Brendan Foster. Foster had taken part in New Zealand’s Round the Bays Race in 1979 and wanted to create a similar fun run experience near his hometown of Hebburn in County Durham. He helped to organise the ‘Gateshead Fun Run’ in 1977, a pioneering event which would pave the way for the Great North Run to become one of the biggest half marathon’s in the world. Starting just outside the centre of Newcastle before crossing the famous Tyne Bridge into the borough of Gateshead, the race passes through some of the region’s most well-known suburbs before reaching the picturesque South Shields coast.

Great North Run 40th anniversary

This year, The Great North Run will celebrates 40 years since its first ever fun. Newcastle’s now world-famous half marathon first took place in June 1981 when 12,264 people lined up ready to start what was to become an iconic part of sporting history and an integral part of North East culture. As one of the world’s largest races, the Great North Run is a prominent date in the sporting calendar for professional runners, keen racers and have-ago joggers alike. Capturing the Northern Spirit perfectly with its charitable causes and the support of thousands of cheering locals, it’s difficult to imagine what Newcastle and Gateshead would be without it. Unfortunately, 2020 was a year of unprecedented events when the coronavirus pandemic called a halt to activities and events including the Great North Run. However, a year on – organisers have announced the 2021 Great North Run event will go ahead safely and will be a great celebration for the North East as runners take to the pavements once again.  

Below is a gallery of past Great North Runs.

You can learn much more about The Great North by watching this video below.