For our live online coverage of the event tomorrow, go to www.journallive.co.uk/greatnorthrun
RUNNERS are being warned to protect themselves against potentially fatal dehydration as thousands of athletes battle the heat in this year’s Great North Run.
More than 54,000 people will pound their way through the streets of Tyneside in a bid to complete the 13.1-mile course from Newcastle to South Shields.
But Met Office forecasters have predicted the heat will peak at temperatures as high as 19C, which has sparked fears for those taking part.
Last night Dr George Rae, from Whitley Bay, chairman of the North Eastern British Medical Association, urged athletes to be fully prepared for high temperatures and the risk of dehydration.
He said: “Many people are aware of the fact that if you are undertaking intensive exercise then there is a risk of dehydration. This is quite a test of endurance. If the temperatures are high then things like dehydration will put a tax on the heart and this will have to be taken into consideration.
“There are stopping off points on the run, showers, and drinks stations, and runners should be aware of these and need to be careful.”
Since the Great North Run started in 1981, there have been seven deaths. In 2005 four people died during the run as temperatures soared past 19C.
Among them was County Durham teacher Phil Lewis, 52, who was taking part in his 24th Great North Run. In 2000 Tommy Shields, 65, from Sandyford, Newcastle, suffered a heart attack and died while training for the event.
In 1995, 35-year-old Ian Graham from Washington died moments after he had crossed the finish line and teacher Thomas Collins, of Fawdon, Newcastle, died after four miles in 1983.
Last night Met Office forecaster John Hammond said temperatures would be as high as 19C. He said: “For the race itself, temperatures will reach the late teens and they might get up to 18C or 19C.
“During the course of the day there will be some patches of cloud but it will mostly be sunshine. Generally the runners will enjoy a fine day with bouts of sunshine.” This year’s record-breaking entrance figure was whittled down from more than 100,000 applicants over the past 12 months.
And today, final preparations are being made as the thousands of charity runners flock to Tyneside for the UK’s biggest half-marathon.
David Hart, Nova’s head of communications, said: “This weekend is the culmination of 18 months of planning for us. It has a massive economic impact on the North East – bringing millions to the region.
“We are all very proud of it and, on the night before the race, it’s a feeling of nervous excitement. We’ve never had such a comprehensive programme.” Images of Tyneside will be broadcast in more than 100 countries as North East heroes Sting and Steve Harmison set the runners on their way tomorrow.
Traffic across the city will be diverted as road closures are put in place. The A167 Central Motorway, including the Tyne Bridge, will be closed between 8pm on Saturday and 5pm the following day.
But runners making their way to Tyneside for the Great North Run are being warned to keep their Sat-navs out of view.
Police in Gateshead are stepping up patrols around hotels and car parks with the half-marathon due to stride into action on Sunday.
Inspector Michael Robson has appealed for car-owners not to leave electrical equipment in their cars, or to keep it locked-up and out of sight.
He said: “With large numbers of cars expected in the area ahead of Sunday’s run we are increasing patrols around the Derwenthaugh estate, Scotswood Bridge and Metrocentre.
“We would ask anyone who sees anything suspicious to contact us on 0345 604-3043.”
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Stars step out
MORE than 30 soap stars from Coronation Street and Emmerdale will join Alastair Campbell in the Great North Run to raise money for Leukaemia Research.
The charity’s runners, dubbed the Banana Army because of their bright yellow running vests, will tackle the 13.1-mile course tomorrow.
The actors will be joined by Leukaemia Research’s chairman of fundraising Alastair Campbell, who used to be Tony Blair’s communications chief.
The Emmerdale team includes Jeff Hordley (Cain Dingle), Chris Chittell (Eric Pollard), Matthew Wolfenden (David Metcalfe) and Tony Audenshaw (Bob Hope).
Coronation Street will be represented by Vicky Binns (Molly Compton), Conor Ryan (Len Windass), Graham Hawley (John Stape) and Rachel Leskovac (Natasha Blakeman), among others.
“The whole weekend in the North East is a great family experience,” said Emmerdale’s Tony Audenshaw. “My wife Ruth started running after she came to watch me take part about seven years ago. She watched all the athletes finishing the course and said ’I could do that’. She is now a seasoned marathoner and has the Great North Run to thank for it.”
The soap stars will take a break from their preparations to cheer on children taking part in the Mini and Junior North Runs, today. The Junior Great North Run will be started and ran by Emmerdale actress Eden Taylor-Draper, who plays Belle Dingle.
Helping worthy causes
RUNNERS will pound the streets of Tyneside tomorrow in a bid to raise cash and “Celebrate Katy”.
Katy Doyle, of County Durham, was just 24 when she died last December in her bedroom following a seizure, a condition called sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP). Her mother, Helen, said her daughter was desperate to take part in the Great North Run but died before she had the chance to do so. Helen, 54, and Katy’s brother Stewart, 28, are part of a group of more than 50 people set to run this year in memory of Katy and to raise money for Epilepsy Action, the leading voice for the condition in the UK.
WHEN David Burdus crashed his motorbike just days before his 21st birthday he never dreamed he would be taking part in this year’s Great North Run. He spent 10 months lying in a hospital ward and endured a further two years of tests, surgery and physiotherapy.
But tomorrow, more than 25 years after the accident, Mr Burdus will travel the 13.1-mile course from Newcastle to South Shields – on his motorbike. The 46-year-old will lead out the wheelchair athletes in a specially modified machine designed for wheelchair users.