Olympic stars, celebrities, elite athletes and joggers will be pounding the streets of Newcastle, Gateshead and South Shields on Sunday 11 September in the 2016 edition of the Great North Run. So what exactly is this well-known race and who will be the stars of this year’s event?
The Great North Run – The History of the Race
Billed as the biggest half marathon in the world, this popular sporting event has been taking place annually since 1981. It was the brainchild of Brendan Foster, the sports commentator whose medal collection includes a bronze from the 10,000 metres event at the Montreal Summer Olympics in 1976, and gold medals from the 5,000 metres in the 1974 European Championships and the 10,000 metres at the 1978 Commonwealth Games.
12,000 runners competed in the inaugural race, but the number of participants has increased dramatically since then, with more than 57,000 people expected to take part this year. Originally advertised as a fun run for locals, it’s now one of the most famous half marathons in the UK. As well as attracting competitors from around the world, it raises a huge amount of money for charity each year.
From Newcastle to South Shields – The Race Course
The start line for the 2016 Great North Run is in Newcastle upon Tyne’s city centre. The 13.1 mile course takes the competitors across the famous Tyne Bridge and through Gateshead, past Gateshead Stadium, and into Heworth. They continue on through the Tyne Tunnel, through South Tyneside and into South Shields, where they travel along Coast Road to reach the finish line.
Mo Farah – Can the Four-Time Olympic Gold Medallist Win Again?
The athletics star who everyone will be hoping to catch sight of is Mo Farah, Britain’s distance running specialist. Fresh from Rio, where he successfully defended the 5,000 metres and 10,000 metres titles that he won in London 2012, Mo will be hoping to clinch his third back-to-back Great North Run win.
In 2015, Mo became the third man to win consecutive editions of the race, a feat that had last been achieved by Benson Masya of Kenya, when he took the title in 1991 and 1992. The only man to have done this before was Mike McLeod, of Tyneside, back in 1981 and 1982. So can Mo capitalise on his Olympic gold medal winning form and go one better this year?
Which Famous Figures Will Be Competing in the 2016 Race?
Mo Farah isn’t the only famous name on this year’s start list, however. Sports stars, sporting commentators, actors and models will all be running to raise money for their chosen charities.
Runners from other sporting disciplines include retired gymnast, Craig Heap, who won a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and competed for England at the 2000 Olympic Games, as well as former professional footballers Michael Gray, Kevin Davis, Steve Stone and Kevin Kilbane.
Children’s author, Terry Deary, will also be competing, as will Ricky Wilson and Nick “Peanut” Baines from the Kaiser Chiefs, model Nell McAndrew and impressionist Jon Culshaw.
Claire Lomas – A Five Day Challenge to Remember
One headline-making athlete has already started to make her way along the course. Claire Lomas, from Leicestershire, who has been dubbed the “bionic woman” by the press, is aiming to complete the route in five days.
Claire is paralysed from the waist down, after being involved in a riding accident in 2007, and will be wearing a “bionic suit”. Aiming to raise £10,000 for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation, she’s planning to cover three miles each day – and her five-year old daughter, Maisie, will be participating in the Mini Great North Run on Saturday too.
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