THE Great North Run have achieved another milestone in their search for a representative from every country in the world to take part in the iconic half marathon after reaching their 150th nation this week.
The Great World Run initiative was launched in February, with event organisers The Great Run Company seeking a runner from all 193 United Nations member states to take part in the 13.1-mile run from Newcastle to South Shields on September 11.
And the addition of Guatemala made it 150 not out for the event organisers, who have called on representatives of the final 43 to come forward and take part in the world-famous event.
Guatemala, with its capital Guatemala City, means ‘place of many trees’, and boasts the highest mountain in central America.
Andorra, Macedonia, Togo, and Tuvalu are among the countries remaining on the list, and organisers remain optimistic they can find a representative from each of them to create a world first at a running event.
The event organisers have launched a dedicated website to track the countries that have signed up for the Great North Run at greatrun.org/GNRWorldRun, with Togo, Iceland, Mali, Mozambique, Palau and Ivory Coast among the nations yet to be represented.
From Albania to Zambia, from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe, from Angola to Vanuatu, the route will carry flags from all 193 UN member states and will be transformed into a carnival of colour.
The Great North CityGames, Junior and Mini Great North Runs and the Great North 5k held on Saturday, September 10, will be accompanied by a food festival with dishes from around the world on offer.
And there will be interactive digital and social media elements leading up to and on the day of the event using the hashtag #GNRWorldRun.
It is the latest stage in the development of the Great North Run, 35 years on from its first staging in 1981, where 12,000 people took part.
All applicants will be requested to supply proof of their nationality before being accepted into the event, and a dedicated email address – firstname.lastname@example.org – has been set up to handle enquiries from anyone who could be eligible.