Rock legend Mark Knopfler to honour millionth Great North Runner

Mark Knopfler is to perform at the Great North Run Million opening ceremony

Mark Knopfler who is perform at the Great North Run Million opening ceremony
Mark Knopfler who is perform at the Great North Run Million opening ceremony

Rock star Mark Knopfler will honour a new local hero when he performs at the ambitious Great North Run Million opening ceremony.

The guitarist, who grew up on Tyneside, will play Local Hero at the event, marking the run which is guaranteed to produce the millionth finisher – a world first.

The ceremony, on September 4, will take place on Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides and involve live music, film and dance.

A new story by David Almond will be brought to life under the directorship of Bradley Hemmings, co-artistic director of the London 2012 Paralympic Games.

But now one of the region’s biggest stars has also thrown his weight behind the event.

Knopfler, who has performed starting duties at the Great North Run in the past, said: “I’m proud to have been a supporter of this great event from the beginning and am looking forward to being there to play Local Hero once more on September 4 when the Bupa Great North Run gets ready to notch up its millionth finish.”

Run founder Brendan Foster said he was thrilled the one-time Dire Straits frontman was taking part because his music had been the soundtrack to the Great North Run in the early days.

“That particular track has now become the Great North Run anthem,” he said. “What better way to kick off this world first event?”

Dire Straits was formed in 1977 by Knopfler, younger brother David and others. The band went on to sell over 120 million albums.

Local Hero is from the soundtrack – which Knopfler was commissioned to write and produce – of the 1983 film comedy of the same name.

The Great North Run Million Opening Ceremony, marking the countdown to the landmark running, will tell the story of the North East, embracing its innovators in industry, sport and technology and also the ordinary people who have worked together to achieve extraordinary things.

Tickets go on sale today for the ceremony which Bradley Hemmings, the co-Artistic Director of the London 2012 Paralympic Opening Ceremony, has said will honour the spirit of running for all.

“In this first ever One Millionth Ceremony, the River Tyne, surely one of the world’s most iconic settings, will become the arena for an epic and inclusive story,” he has said.

As tickets for the event go on sale, a call has also been made for 1,500 volunteer performers who will form a giant circle around the Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides and perform at key moments during the show.

The organisers say no experience is necessary but volunteers must be aged 16 or over on August 8, be prepared to attend two weekend rehearsals in August and be available on September 4 from 2pm and into the evening. Volunteers can sign up by July 18 via


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