TYNESIDE will be transformed this weekend as thousands arrive in the region for the Great North Run. Around 50,000 runners will take part in the half marathon from Newcastle to South Shields tomorrow.
As ever, a large proportion will be kitted out in bizarre outfits and raising money for various charities, while the elite athletes battle it out for first place.
And getting things under way today, 5,000 under-16s are due to tackle their own Great North Run, with routes of one, two and three miles designed for the various age groups.
A breathtaking fly-past display from the Red Arrows is also planned for around 3.40pm today.
Yesterday, the founder of the Great North Run Brendan Foster was getting excited about the weekend.
He said: “I’m looking forward to it. It’s the biggest half marathon in the world and it is thought of highly throughout sport.
“Obviously, the elite athletes are fantastic – having been one myself – but I’m particularly excited about the crowds, the numbers, the people of the North-East coming out for it.
“It’s a fantastic sight. The North-East will be a vision on Sunday. Tyneside just comes alive.”
The Race will be started by former Newcastle and England football boss Sir Bobby Robson, and current England chief Steve McClaren is donning his running shorts.
Meanwhile, every postcode in the UK will be represented in the run.
Stella Hall, creative director for Newcastle-Gateshead Initiative (NGI), said: “In the lead up towards 2012, sport forms an increasingly important part of our cultural programme.
“Events such as the Great North Mile attract athletes of the very highest calibre and have the capacity to draw crowds from around the region and around the UK helping to raise the profile of NewcastleGateshead as an exciting cultural destination.”
Among the runners will be well-known faces including Tony Blair’s former PR man Alastair Campbell, BBC sport presenter Ray Stubbs and TV presenter Carol Vorderman. Tory Tyneside spokesman Alan Duncan is also taking part.