Great North Run: The event that continues to give

It's a day the Tyne Bridge becomes so congested it causes a tail back from Newcastle to South Shields - and nobody minds

It's a day the Tyne Bridge becomes so congested it causes a tail back from Newcastle to South Shields – and nobody minds.

For it’s Great North Run day when the region does what it does best – raise cash for worthy causes, and has a party.

And what an event this year’s run proved to be, boasting drama, theatre and breathtaking spectacle.

Fears that the wind and rain might dampen proceedings were soon shown to be ill founded as around 56,000 competitors formed a breathtaking wall of humanity on Newcastle’s Central Motorway.


The event was started by World 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu and England cricketer Graeme Swann, while the legendary Red Arrow Aerobatics Team provided a spectacular escort in the skies as the runners made their way over the Tyne Bridge.

At the head of the race, Britain’s World and Olympic champion Mo Farah took part in an epic duel with rival Kenenisa Bekele. In one of the closest finishes in the event’s history, the Ethiopian runner just held off crowd favourite Mo.

David Hart, spokesman for Nova International which organises the event, said: “It was an incredible day – one of the greatest races in athletics history.


“It had probably the greatest finish of any Great North Run in recent years, the crowd were sensational, and it was a great day for the region and the 56,000 runners involved.

“A couple of people have been taken to hospital and are under observation, but overall it was a fantastic day and Nova, as organisers, are very, very proud of how it went.”

Behind the lead runners came the rest of the competitors, some closer than others. Each had their own story to tell.

They ranged from the extraordinary efforts of legendary charity runner Tony The Fridge who covered the 13.1 miles with a fridge on his back and who is not surprisingly thinking of ending his charity efforts.

A team of nine police officers who raised £20,000 by using the Great North Run as the final stage of a mega triathlon fundraiser which had started with a one mile swim and 300 mile bike ride from London to Newcastle.

And of course any number of stories of families raising money for lost loved ones, in need of funds for specialist medical care or just as a way of saying thank you.

GNR's millionth finisher will be celebrated in style

As well as enjoying yesterday’s event, Great North Run founder, Brendan Foster was also happy to look ahead to a very special element of next year’s run.

In 2014, the Great North Run will clock up its millionth finisher – becoming the first IAAF event in the world to reach such a milestone.

“The GNR will have its millionth finish just before New York, just before London, just before Chicago, just before Boston, which has been going for 100 years. We’re very proud of that, and happy to be part of that family,” said Brendan.

Although plans for celebrating the landmark statistic are at an early stage, they are likely to be ambitious and spectacular.


Brendan said: “We’re certainly going to celebrate. We’ve been talking to the guys who did the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games and we’re looking at the Quayside as a stage, with an amphitheatre and things happening in the week leading up to the Great North Run.

“The IAAF will come across and pass the baton to us for the million club. After they’re done with us they’ll be off to New York to present the baton to New York. It’s a major, major thing for us.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer