Great North Run

The Great North Run (branded the Simplyhealth Great North Run for sponsorship purposes) is the largest half marathon in the world, taking place annually in North East England each September.[1] Participants run between Newcastle upon Tyne and South Shields. The run was devised by former Olympic 10,000 m bronze medallist and BBC Sport commentator Brendan Foster.

Great North Run
DateSeptember annually (occasionally October)
LocationNewcastle upon Tyne to South Shields, England, UK
Event typeRoad
DistanceHalf marathon
Primary sponsorSimplyhealth
Course recordsMen:
Kenya Martin Mathathi 58:56
Kenya Brigid Kosgei 1:04:28
Official siteGreat North Run

The first Great North Run was staged on 28 June 1981, when 12,000 runners participated. By 2011, the number of participants had risen to 54,000. For the first year it was advertised as a local fun run; nearly thirty years on it has become one of the biggest running events in the world, and the biggest in the UK. Only the Great Manchester Run and London Marathon come close to attracting similar numbers of athletes each year.

The 1992 edition of the race incorporated the 1st IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. The event also has junior and mini races attached with these being run the Saturday before the main race on the Newcastle Quayside. Martin Mathathi holds the current men's course record with his run of 58:56 in 2011. In 2019, Brigid Kosgei's women's course record of 64:28[2] bettered the previous mark by over a minute and was also the fastest ever half marathon by a woman; however, the course was not eligible for records. That same year, Mo Farah won a record sixth consecutive men's Great North Run.[3]


The Great North Run starts in Newcastle upon Tyne on the A167 road (the central motorway), on the edge of both the city centre and the Town Moor. The route heads east and south down the motorway section, around the eastern side of the city centre, then crosses the Tyne Bridge into Gateshead. It heads around the eastern side of Gateshead town centre, then at a roundabout turns east and heads down the A184 (the Felling Bypass) in the direction of Sunderland. After 3.5 miles (5.6 km), the route turns off the A184 and heads north-east towards South Shields down the A194 (Leam Lane). 2.5 miles (4.0 km) later, the route reaches the southern side of Jarrow and it turns east down the A1300 (John Reid Road). The route passes through the south of South Shields (through Harton and Marsden) until it reaches the seafront just over 3.5 miles (5.6 km) later, where it turns north up the A183. The last mile (1.6 km) of the route runs along the seafront road to the finishing line at South Shields.[4] All roads on the course are closed several hours before the race begins, however multiple vehicles including TV crews, emergency services, event staff, and a fleet of buses carrying participants' belongings are authorised to travel between Newcastle and South Shields on the closed course roads ahead of and following the participants.


The Great North Run is a mass participation event: two lines of runners merging near the one mile mark.

The run was devised by former Olympic 10,000 m bronze medallist and BBC Sport commentator Brendan Foster. Foster was inspired after running in the Round the Bays Race in New Zealand in 1979, and has built upon the Great North Run with a series of other Great Run road races.

The first Great North Run was staged on 28 June 1981, when 12,000 runners participated. By 2003, the number of participants had risen to 47,000. The 2011 event saw an announced field of 54,000. The number of finishers was 35,777 in 2007, the largest half marathon and the 13th largest running race that year.[5] In 2014, the event had 41,615 finishers, making it the largest half-marathon in the world as certified by Guinness World Records in 2016.[1]

For the first nine races, eight of them were held in June. Since 1990, the race has instead been held in the autumn, usually in September but occasionally in October instead.[6] Since 1990, the earliest date the race has been held on is 7 September (2014) and the latest is 22 October (2000). Bupa was the title partner of the Great North Run from the early 1990s until 2014, one of Britain's longest ever sports sponsorship agreements. In 2015 Morrisons announced their sponsorship of the Great Run series.[7] In November 2015, the Great Run Company announced it was searching for a new title sponsor which includes the Great North Run. The 2016 Great North Run was the first staging of the event without a title sponsor.[8] Simplyhealth became the new lead sponsor for 2017.[9]


2017 Great North Run finishers medal

In 2004 a runner died (the eighth death in the event's then 24-year history).[10]

The 2005 Great North Run was the twenty-fifth edition of the race. Events to mark the anniversary included the launch of the Great North Run Cultural Programme at the Sage Gateshead. The race was started by Mike McLeod, the winner of the inaugural race in 1981. During the race, four participants died en route to South Shields.[11][12] An inquest into the four deaths from 2005 began on Monday 5 June 2006 at Gateshead Council Chambers.[13][14][15][16] In subsequent events, more emergency service personnel were brought in to ensure there was adequate cover.

In spite of increased medical provision at the 2006 race, a man in his twenties died.[17][18]

The 2007 Great North Run was held on 30 September and was started by former England and Newcastle United manager Sir Bobby Robson. Kara Goucher defeated Paula Radcliffe in an impressive victory for the American. Goucher's winning time was 1:06:57.

The 2008 Great North Run was held on 5 October and was started by former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair.

The 2009 Great North Run was held on 20 September[19] and was started by the musician Sting.

The 2010 Great North Run was the 30th running of the event and was held on 19 September and was started by TV presenters Ant & Dec. The number of finishers (half marathon only) was 39,459.[20]

The 2011 Great North Run took place on the morning of Sunday, 18 September 2011. The race was started by World 5,000-metre champion Mo Farah.[21]

In 2013 the 33rd Great North Run had 56000 participants, most of whom were raising money for charity. The elite races had Olympic Gold Medalists and World Champion long-distance runners participating including in the men's race, Mo Farah, Kenenisa Bekele and a regular supporter of the event, Haile Gebrselassie. Ethiopian Bekele won the men's event just ahead of Farah. Kenya's Priscah Jeptoo came first the women's race and multi Olympic Gold Medalist David Weir won the wheelchair event.[22]

In 2014 the 34th Great North Run had 57000 participants, celebrated the 1 millionth runner to cross the finish line, and was the first to have a British man win in 29 years. Mo Farah completed the race in exactly 1 hour, while Mary Keitany completed in 1:05:39 seconds - surpassing the previous course record of 1:05:40 by 1 second, a record held by Paula Radcliffe. Tracey Cramond, who was raising money for Butterwick Hospices, was the 1 millionth person to complete the run, stating she was "gobsmacked" and that it was her "moment of fame".[23][24] The Great North Run was the first International Athletics Association Event (IAAF) event in the world to reach such a milestone.

In 2015 a 58-year-old male runner died.[25][26][better source needed]

The 2020 Great North Run was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[27]

Past winnersEdit

Runners taking part in 2006
Paula Radcliffe and Kara Goucher heading the pack in the 2007 race

Key:   Course record

Edition Year Men's winner Time (h:m:s) Women's winner Time (h:m:s)
1st 1981   Mike McLeod (GBR) 1:03:23   Karen Goldhawk (GBR) 1:17:36
2nd 1982   Mike McLeod (GBR) 1:02:44   Margaret Lockley (GBR) 1:19:24
3rd 1983   Carlos Lopes (POR) 1:02:46   Julie Barleycorn (GBR) 1:16:39
4th 1984   Øyvind Dahl (NOR) 1:04:36   Grete Waitz (NOR) 1:10:27
5th 1985   Steve Kenyon (GBR) 1:02:44   Rosa Mota (POR) 1:09:54
6th 1986   Michael Musyoki (KEN) 1:00:43   Lisa Martin (AUS) 1:09:45
7th 1987   Robert de Castella (AUS) 1:02:04   Lisa Martin (AUS) 1:10:00
8th 1988   John Treacy (IRL) 1:01:00   Grete Waitz (NOR) 1:08:49
9th 1989   El Mostafa Nechchadi (MAR) 1:02:39   Lisa Martin (AUS) 1:10:43
10th 1990   Steve Moneghetti (AUS) 1:00:34   Rosa Mota (POR) 1:09:33
11th 1991   Benson Masya (KEN) 1:00:28   Ingrid Kristiansen (NOR) 1:10:57
12th 1992   Benson Masya (KEN) 1:00:24   Liz McColgan (GBR) 1:08:53
13th 1993   Moses Tanui (KEN) 59:47   Tegla Loroupe (KEN) 1:12:55
14th 1994   Benson Masya (KEN) 1:00:02   Rosanna Munerotto (ITA) 1:11:29
15th 1995   Moses Tanui (KEN) 1:00:39   Liz McColgan (GBR) 1:11:42
16th 1996   Benson Masya (KEN) 1:01:43   Liz McColgan (GBR) 1:10:28
17th 1997   Hendrick Ramaala (RSA) 1:00:25   Lucia Subano (KEN) 1:09:24
18th 1998   Josia Thugwane (RSA) 1:02:32   Sonia O'Sullivan (IRL) 1:11:50
19th 1999   John Mutai (KEN) 1:00:52   Joyce Chepchumba (KEN) 1:09:07
20th 2000   Phaustin Baha Sulle (TAN) 1:01:57   Paula Radcliffe (GBR) 1:07:07
21st 2001   Paul Tergat (KEN) 1:00:30   Susan Chepkemei (KEN) 1:08:40
22nd 2002   Paul Kosgei (KEN) 59:58   Sonia O'Sullivan (IRL) 1:07:19
23rd 2003   Hendrick Ramaala (RSA) 1:00:01   Paula Radcliffe (GBR) 1:05:40
24th 2004   Dejene Berhanu (ETH) 59:37   Benita Johnson (AUS) 1:07:55
25th 2005   Zersenay Tadese (ERI) 59:05   Derartu Tulu (ETH) 1:07:33[28]
26th 2006   Hendrick Ramaala (RSA) 1:01:03   Berhane Adere (ETH) 1:10:03
27th 2007   Martin Lel (KEN) 1:00:08   Kara Goucher (USA) 1:06:57
28th 2008   Tsegaye Kebede (ETH) 59:45   Gete Wami (ETH) 1:08:51
29th 2009   Martin Lel (KEN) 59:32   Jéssica Augusto (POR) 1:09:08
30th 2010   Haile Gebrselassie (ETH) 59:33   Berhane Adere (ETH) 1:08:49
31st 2011   Martin Mathathi (KEN) 58:56   Lucy Wangui (KEN) 1:07:06
32nd 2012   Wilson Kipsang (KEN) 59:06   Tirunesh Dibaba (ETH) 1:07:35
33rd 2013   Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) 1:00:09   Priscah Jeptoo (KEN) 1:05:45
34th 2014   Mo Farah (GBR) 1:00:00   Mary Keitany (KEN) 1:05:39
35th 2015   Mo Farah (GBR) 59:22   Mary Keitany (KEN) 1:07:32
36th 2016   Mo Farah (GBR) 1:00:04   Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) 1:07:54
37th 2017   Mo Farah (GBR) 1:00:06   Mary Keitany (KEN) 1:05:59
38th 2018   Mo Farah (GBR) 59:27   Vivian Cheruiyot (KEN) 1:07:44
39th 2019   Mo Farah (GBR) 59:07   Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 1:04:28
2020 cancelled
40th 2021   Marc Scott (GBR) 1:01:22   Hellen Obiri (KEN) 1:07:42

Wheelchair raceEdit

  Course record

Edition Year Men's winner Time (h:m:s) Women's winner Time (h:m:s)
1981   Alan Robinson (GBR) 1:28:54
1982   Alan Robinson (GBR) 1:32:00
1983   John Grant (GBR) 1:17:16   Maria Dodsworth (GBR) 2:27:29
1984   Terry Clark (GBR) 1:10:28   Ellen Hodgson (GBR) 2:50:42
1985   Mark Tong (GBR) 1:17:18   Anne Graham (GBR) 2:26:53
1986   Chris Hallam (GBR) 1:01:15   Karen Davidson (GBR) 1:13:04
1987   Chris Hallam (GBR) 56:37   Karen Davidson (GBR) 1:19:55
1988   David Holding (GBR) 57:57   Josie Cichockyj (GBR) 1:37:38
1989   Chris Hallam (GBR) 1:01:40   Eileen Dixon (GBR) 2:06:54
1990   Chris Hallam (GBR) 56:32   Tanni Grey-Thompson (GBR) 1:05:08
1991   David Holding (GBR) 47:24   Tanni Grey-Thompson (GBR) 1:00:22
1992   David Holding (GBR) 50:21   Tanni Grey-Thompson (GBR) 59:21
1993   Ivan Newman (GBR) 54:11   Rose Hill (GBR) 58:00
1994   David Holding (GBR) 50:33   Rose Hill (GBR) 1:00:41
1995   Jack McKenna (GBR) 52:16   Tanni Grey-Thompson (GBR) 58:44
1996   David Holding (GBR) 49:17   Tanni Grey-Thompson (GBR) 57:17
1997   David Holding (GBR) 44:22   Tanni Grey-Thompson (GBR) 52:17
1998   Hadj Lahmar (GBR) 53:47   Tanni Grey-Thompson (GBR) 1:10:58
1999   Hadj Lahmar (GBR) 49:57   Tanni Grey-Thompson (GBR) 1:02:32
2000   Kevin Papworth (GBR) 49:18   Sarah Piercey (GBR) 1:13:32
2001   Tushar Patel (GBR) 48:10   Gunilla Wallengren (SWE) 52:59
2002   Tushar Patel (GBR) 48:46   Gunilla Wallengren (SWE) 57:47
2003   David Weir (GBR) 45:41   Gunilla Wallengren (SWE) 53:04
2004   Kenny Herriot (GBR) 45:37   Gunilla Wallengren (SWE) 52:14
2005   David Weir (GBR) 42:33   Shelly Woods (GBR) 50:04
2006   Kurt Fearnley (AUS) 42:39   Diane Roy (CAN) 50:33
2007   Ernst van Dyk (RSA) 42:35   Shelly Woods (GBR) 50:33
2008   Josh Cassidy (CAN) 44:10   Diane Roy (CAN) 51:18
2009   David Weir (GBR) 41:34   Amanda McGrory (USA) 49:47
2010   David Weir (GBR) 44:49   Shelly Woods (GBR) 52:59
2011   Josh Cassidy (CAN) 43:57   Shelly Woods (GBR) 50:14
2012   Josh Cassidy (CAN) 43:18   Jane Egan (GBR) 1:15:00
2013   David Weir (GBR) 43:06   Shelly Woods (GBR) 54:28
2014   Jordi Madeira (ESP) 43:02   Shelly Woods (GBR) 50:34
2015   Shelly Woods (GBR) 53:38
2016   Mark Telford (GBR) 49:02
2017   Simon Lawson (GBR) 44:22   Manuela Schär (CHE) 48:44
2018   David Weir (GBR) 41:19   Martyna Snopek (POL) 1:03:44
2019   David Weir (GBR) 43:29   Jade Jones-Hall (GBR) 50:15
2020 cancelled
2021   Sean Frame (GBR) 49:52   Shelly Woods (GBR) 57:01

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Largest half marathon". Guinness World Records.
  2. ^ "Bridged Kosgei runs the fastest". Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  3. ^ "BBC Sport on Twitter". 8 September 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  4. ^ "Great North Run - Half Marathon".
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 12 May 2008. Retrieved 29 June 2006.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Running USA - RRIC World's Largest Races
  6. ^ "Great North Run 2015: Why next year's race has a later date". Evening Chronicle. 10 September 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Morrisons To Become New Great Run Series Sponsor". 2015. Archived from the original on 3 February 2015. Retrieved 3 February 2015.
  8. ^ "Great Run Series Seeks New Title Sponsor".
  9. ^ "Simplyhealth steps in as Great North Run lead sponsor". BBC News. 6 January 2017. Retrieved 26 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Man died during Great North Run". BBC News Online. 30 September 2004. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  11. ^ Four men die in Great North Run, BBC News, 18 September 2005.
  12. ^ Carter, Helen (19 September 2005). "Four runners die on Great North Run". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  13. ^ "Great North Run victims' families criticise first-aiders".
  14. ^ "Runners died of 'over-exertion'". BBC News Online. 9 June 2006. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  15. ^ Gardner, Tony (9 June 2006). "Coroner in plea over Great North run death". Archived from the original on 23 October 2018.
  16. ^ "Great North Run - It must go on". ChronicleLive. 9 June 2006.
  17. ^ Tragedy hits 26th Great North Run, BBC News report on the 29-year-old, unnamed Yorkshire man who died in the 2006 run.
  18. ^ "Adam Sills: How dangerous is the Great North Run?". The Guardian. 3 October 2006.
  19. ^ Warburton, Dan (19 September 2009). "Dehydration warning to participants of Great North Run". Archived from the original on 19 August 2013.
  20. ^ The highest overall position number for a runner, when searching the results on
  21. ^ "BUPA Great North Run @ Newcastle – Gateshead, UK, 18th September 2011". 24 Hour Trading Ltd. Retrieved 18 September 2011.
  22. ^ "Great North Run: Mo Farah narrowly beaten as thousands run". BBC News. 15 September 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  23. ^ "Great North Run: Thousands complete half-marathon". BBC News. 7 September 2014.
  24. ^ "Great North Run 2014: One millionth finisher crosses line". BBC News. 7 September 2014.
  25. ^ "Great North Run: Runner has died, organisers say". BBC News Online. 13 September 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  26. ^ White, Tom (15 September 2015). "Tributes paid to 'regular runner' who died on last mile of Great North Run". mirror.
  27. ^ "Coronavirus: Great North Run cancelled in 40th year". BBC News. 15 June 2020. Retrieved 15 June 2020.
  28. ^ "Great North Run". Retrieved 15 March 2021.


External linksEdit