Brendan Foster, the founder of the Simplyhealth Great North Run, is to be the official race starter of the world’s biggest half marathon on September 10.

First staged in 1981, Brendan has never before been on the start line to witness the thousands of participants set off on their 13.1 mile journey from Newcastle to South Shields.

Brendan, who recently retired from his commentary duties with the BBC said, “It will fulfil a long standing ambition to see the start of the Simplyhealth Great North Run and wish everyone all the best.

“When my colleagues at the Great Run Company suggested I should be the starter, I realised I’d actually never seen everyone set off.  At least I’ll have a proper job on the day now and I’m really looking forward to the new experience.”

Brendan, who has run the event three times, will join an illustrious band of people who have performed the starting duties over the last 36 years, including stars from the world of sport and entertainment.

Baroness Tanni Grey Thompson, Sir Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford, Sir Chris Hoy, Dame Kelly Holmes, Ellie Simmonds and Daley Thompson are just some of the celebrated Olympians and Paralympians who have fired the starters’ pistol.

From the world of football, Sir Bobby Robson, Alan Shearer, Peter Beardsley, Peter Reid, Sir Bobby and Jackie Charlton are among those who have set runners on their way.

Music legends Sting and Mark Knopfler and TV stars Ant and Dec have also undertaken the official starters' duties on the central motorway in Newcastle.

The Simplyhealth Great North Run, which has 57,000 accepted entries, will be broadcast live on BBC One from 09.30 to 13.30 on Sunday, 10 September with highlights on BBC Two at 6pm.