The one millionth participant is set to cross the finish line in this year’s Bupa Great North Run.
Runners hoping to secure a place in the region’s best-known sporting event can apply now.
The entry ballot for the 33rd race has officially opened and participants are encouraged to sign-up online for the event, which is to be staged on September 7.
People have already applied to take part in the half marathon this year, when it will become the first running event to boast one million finishers.
David Hart, communications director at run organiser Nova International, said: “This is a momentous year for the Bupa Great North Run and it’s looking certain that demand for the event will reach record levels. And for one person from the field of 56,000 runners on September 7 they will have the honour of being the millionth person to cross the finish line in South Shields.
“It has been an incredible journey for the Great North Run since its first staging on June 28, 1981. What started life as a big event for the region has mushroomed into a weekend-long celebration of running and one of the greatest events on the worldwide athletics calendar.
“Now established as Britain’s biggest running event, the Bupa Great North Run has always been a special part of North East life and, while runners from all over the world descend on the region to take part, it’s important that we have a strong local presence on the start line.
“Our first ever finisher was a local lad and wouldn’t it be fantastic if the millionth ever finisher was also from these parts?”
Last year, the event attracted a record number of applications, with more than 120,000 people applying to take part, from which 56,000 entrants were accepted. Special plans are already under way to mark the occasion of the millionth finisher.
North East England is preparing to link up with the east coast of America when the New York Marathon will become the second event to reach the milestone figure, two months later.
The Great North Run was founded by Olympian Brendan Foster, and more than 10,000 people completed the first one. To register for the ballot, go to www.greatrun.org Entries will close at noon on Wednesday, February, 5.
All successful and unsuccessful applicants will be notified by email on or before Wednesday, February 12.
The Journal collaborated with Nova International more than two years ago to launch our Great North Fitness Revolution.
The campaign is challenging everyone to make a pledge to get active and make the positive changes that will lead to a better quality of life.
Under starter's orders for training
Fitness expert David Fairlamb has some advice for Great North Run runners who are looking to start their training.
And he says those of you lucky enough to have a number for the iconic run need to start your preparation now.
He said: "People shouldn't leave their training too late.
"The key is to get some sort of training programme together.
Training should be consistent - trying to do too much too late or too early isn't the way to do it.
"If people get a place in the ballot they should start their training now and continue it.
"People should be training once or twice a week. I try to get my clients to run the distance before the run. A lot of people try to run up to 10 miles and think that the build-up of the race will get them through, but it won't.
"The preparation is also about getting your fitness levels up. People should mix up their training with some sort of exercise class, like a bootcamp.
"It's about your core strength and fitness level as well as the running."