13(.1) Reasons You Should Run the AJ Bell Great North Run

AJ Bell GNR Ballot open

Since its beginnings in 1981, the AJ Bell Great North Run has been the pinnacle of the running calendar. The iconic 13.1 mile route in the heart of the North East of England attracts thousands upon thousands of runners each year.

With the world’s best elite runners, TV coverage, so many famous faces and thousands of supporters lining the route, it’s no wonder why many claim the AJ Bell Great North Run is the world’s greatest half marathon.

As we look forward to the future and to celebrate the launch of the 2023 ballot, we spell out the 13(.1) reasons why you should get involved and sign up to this year’s run.

G is for GREATEST SUPPORTERS

Every year, thousands of supporters pack the streets from the start line on Newcastle’s Central Motorway, over the iconic Tyne Bridge and towards the final miles down by the South Shields coastline.

The sound of thousands of cheering supporters and spectators will carry you along the iconic 13.1 miles and create an atmosphere like you’ve never felt before.

Alongside the incredible spectators, you’ll find entertainment lining the route, music blaring to the crowds and charity stations cheering you as you approach the finish line – it’s something you have to experience to believe!

R is for RAISING MONEY FOR CHARITY

Ever since the AJ Bell Great North Run’s first outing in 1981, the race has raised hundreds of millions of pounds for charities, helping thousands of amazing causes globally.

By opting for a charity in your ballot entry, not only will this help fund the incredible work charities do, it will also provide you with added motivation up until the run on Sunday 10th September.

Don’t forget, once you cross the finish line, you can visit your chosen charity within the Charity Village at South Shields for some much-needed TLC and perhaps a cup of tea and biscuits after your incredible achievement.

E is for ELITE RUNNERS AND FAMOUS FACES

From British and European 10K Record Holder, Eilish McColgan, the incredible Paralympic champion David Weir to Sir Mo Farah himself, so many famous faces and elite runners have taken part in the AJ Bell Great North Run.

Did you know, Sir Mo Farah holds the most male elite wins of the AJ Bell Great North Run, winning the iconic race six times between 2014- 2019?

And it’s not just elite runners who have taken part in the greatest half marathon! Famous faces and celebrities, from TV presenter, Davina McCall, singer song-writer, Olly Murs, British journalist, Sophie Raworth to the Spice Girls’ very own Mel C have challenged themselves to complete the 13.1 miles.

Even the most famous Geordies, Ant and Dec, have been honorary starters at the 30th anniversary of the event in 2010!

A is for APRES ZONE


If the finish line of the AJ Bell Great North Run isn’t amazing enough, once you run through the finish line gantry and get your medal, it’s time to celebrate your achievement in our spectacular Après Run Zone!

We’ll be blasting out tunes to keep the energy levels high, and our food and drink stalls will be ready to provide you with some much-needed refreshments and treats!

Why not reward yourself some Great Run merchandise whilst you’re there, and don’t forget to snap your medal moment in the Apres Zone too – remember, pics or it didn’t happen!

T is for TRACKING YOUR TIME

No matter whether you’re tracking a personal best, or timing your first ever half marathon, everyone wants to know how long it has taken them to run the AJ Bell Great North Run.

Before setting off, we would always advise to download the Great Run mobile app. Not only can you track your pace as you take on the North East streets, you can also track your friends and family on the day, review the map and keep up to date with the latest info from the race too!

N is for NORTH EAST COMMUNITY

WHEY AYE MAN – the friendly North East welcome you’ll receive is something like no other. You’ll be taken back by the friendly generosity of the Geordie crowds that line the half-marathon route to South Shields.

Whether they are cheering you on, handing out jelly babies, oranges slices, beers, or even a cool down with a household hose – you’ll feel the love and support as you take on this amazing run.

And HOWAY MAN, you have brush up on your local slang and that all important Geordie accent!

O is for OGGY OGGY OGGY

As you start the run from Newcastle’s Central Motorway, you’ll be immediately hit with the well-known chant ‘Oggy Oggy Oggy’ as you hit the many underpasses on the way to the iconic Tyne Bridge.

You don’t just sing it – you SHOUT it! The bellows of the runners and spectators cheering you through the first few miles. However, make sure to save that energy for the rest of the route.

R is for ROUTE

The iconic AJ Bell Great North Run route is well-known across the globe which leads from the centre of the city to the beautiful coastline at South Shields. And that’s not all! There are so many iconic landmarks along the way, including Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge to the view to the North Sea from Prince Edward Road

And if that’s not enough, the amazing entertainment and activation zones throughout the full route will get your legs pumping all the way to the end!

T is for THOUSANDS OF RUNNERS

Did you know the AJ Bell Great North Run is the biggest half marathon in the world?

There are 60,000 determined runners taking on the 13.1-mile route from Newcastle to South Shields each year. Each runner has their own story, their own personal reason for taking on the route. Whether they are a first-time runner wanting to take on a new challenge, to raising funds for a

charity close to their heart or dedicating their run to a close family member of friend, although the AJ Bell Great North Run has thousands of runners, this run will also be your own personal story.

H is for HEALTH BENEFITS

There are so many benefits associated with entering the AJ Bell Great North Run.

By putting your name in the 2023 ballot, you’re investing in your health, fitness and mental well-being. You’ll start to strengthen your body, increase your stamina, and you’ll start to see the added benefits of reducing your overall stress, anxiety and increasing your self-esteem.

As you start to take on your personal bests, your confidence and performance will improve with each run, ensuring you’re fully prepared for the big day.

R is for RED ARROWS

Look to the skies – it’s the Red Arrows!

One of the most iconic moments of the AJ Bell Great North Run is the sight of the world-famous Red Arrows as they zoom over the Tyne Bridge whilst thousands of runners make their way to the finish line.

The RAF’s premier display team are a much-loved part of the world’s greatest half marathon. This spectacular sight is enjoyed by the thousands taking part, and the millions more watching at home!

Make sure to turn your head to the sky above as you make your way across the Tyne Bridge as you’ll see these amazing planes soaring in formation with red, white and blue coloured smoke trailing behind them.

U is for UNIQUE COSTUMES

From dinosaurs, cartoon characters to incredible superheroes, there are so many people dressed in fantastic costumes running the 13.1 mile route. We can’t forget the much-loved Elvis too, taking centre stage at mile 10 whilst belting out classics such as ‘Hound Dog’ and ‘Blue Suede Shoes’!

Whether you’re dressed up for charity or just for fun, this all adds to the amazing, festival atmosphere of the event. You’ll be smiling and laughing all the way to the finish line!

N is for NEVER AGAIN (?)

We hear it time and time again – NEVER AGAIN! You cross the finish line, after the longest 800m of your life and you’ll say ‘wow, I’m never doing that again!’

However, after sitting with your finisher’s medal, with a beer in hand and some much-needed treats, surrounded by your friends, family and thousands of other finishers – we guarantee you’ll want to hit the world’s greatest half-marathon again.

Think you could take on the world’s greatest half marathon? We think so!

Sign up to the AJ Bell Great North Run 2023 ballot today for a chance to take part in this amazing race on Sunday 10 September.