Since the first AJ Bell Great North Run in 1981, it has been the pinnacle of the running calendar. The iconic 13.1-mile city-to-sea route from Newcastle to South Shields attracts thousands upon thousands of runners each year.
With the world’s best elite runners, TV coverage, so many famous faces, and thousands of enthusiastic 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 celebrate the launch of the 2024 ballot, we spell out 13(.1) reasons why you should get involved and sign up for the Great North Run ballot.
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 mile along the South Shields coastline.
Thousands of cheering supporters and spectators will carry you along the route with high fives, and jelly babies, to 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 first AJ Bell Great North Run in 1981, the event has raised hundreds of millions of pounds for charities, helping thousands of amazing causes globally. Opting to run for a charity in your ballot entry will not only help fund the incredible work charities do but also provide you with added motivation on the day.
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 and 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. Last year’s race will live long in the memory as British running legend Sir Mo Farah completed his final ever race at the 2023 AJ Bell Great North Run.
And it’s not just elite runners who have taken part in the greatest half marathon! Famous faces and celebrities including TV presenter, Davina McCall, singer song-writer, Olly Murs, British journalist, Sophie Raworth, and 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 recharge and celebrate your achievement in our Après Run Zone. Soak up the sea views, as tunes blast out and food and drink stalls provide some much-needed refreshments and treats.
You can reward yourself with some Great Run merchandise whilst you’re there and don’t forget to snap your medal moment in the Après 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 their all-important AJ Bell Great North Run finish time.
Before setting off, download the Great Run Event Day app. Not only can you track your pace at every mile as you take on the North East streets, friends and family can track your progress, 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 to 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 from the centre of the city to the beautiful coastline at South Shields is well-known across the globe. And that’s not all! There are so many iconic landmarks along the way, including Newcastle’s Tyne Bridge to the view of 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 to the end!
T is for TRAINING
No-one can complete the 13.1 miles of the AJ Bell Great North Run without any training, and we recommend people get as much as they can before the big day.
Luckily, we are here to help, with specially curated half-marathon training plans and a schedule to stick to in order to get race day ready. With beginner, improver, and run walk levels, there is a plan to suit, whatever the level of running.
We also have the very best training advice her on our website, with regular blogs providing all the knowledge and motivation runners need to keep going.
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 and anxiety and increasing your self-esteem.
As you start to take on your personal best, your confidence and performance will improve with each run, ensuring you’re fully prepared for the big day.
R is for RUNNERS
Did you know the AJ Bell Great North Run is the biggest half marathon in the world?
60,000 determined runners take on the 13.1-mile route from Newcastle to South Shields each year. There may be thousands of runners, but each one has their own story and reason for taking on the route. Whether they are a first-time runner wanting to take on a new challenge, raising funds for a charity close to their heart, or dedicating their run to a close family member or friend.
U is for UNIQUE COSTUMES
From dinosaurs and cartoon characters to incredible superheroes, there are so many people dressed in fantastic costumes running the 13.1 mile route. We’ve even seen as group of runners dressed as the iconic Tyne Bridge itself, we can’t think of a more appropriate Great North Run costume than that!
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 13.1 miles of road race running and you’ll say ‘wow, I’m never doing that again!’
However, after sitting with your finisher’s medal, with a drink in hand and some much-needed treats, surrounded by your friends, family, and thousands of other finishers – we can almost 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!