A Record-Breaking Weekend For 36Th Great North Run

The 2017 Great North Run will be staged on September 10th. The entry reminder service is open at grtrun.org/GNRReminder

THE Great North Run’s 36th staging brought an end to a weekend of record-breaking heroics along with inspiring stories of commitment and endeavour.

On a clear morning, the thousands of runners of all abilities were set on their way with a good luck message from United Nations secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, at another day to celebrate for the world’s biggest half marathon.

Mo Farah made history by becoming the first male runner to win three consecutive Great North Runs.

The four-time ‘double double’ Olympic champion added to his 2014 and 2015 victories, easing home to a hard fought victory in the world-famous half marathon between Newcastle and South Shields.

In the women’s race, Olympic Gold medallist Vivian Cheruiyot won on her half marathon debut – and her 33rd birthday, ahead of previous winners Priscah Jeptoo and Tirunesh Dibaba.

But the first of the 41,328 people to cross the finish line in South Shields line was one of the most inspiring people ever to have taken part in a Great North Run.

Claire Lomas crossed the line at 10am before the elite men, women or wheelchairs, completing the final section of a Great North Run journey which started on Wednesday morning.

The 36-year-old was paralysed from the chest down in a riding accident in 2007, but walked the 13.1-mile course using a revolutionary bionic exoskeleton suit along with husband Dan and her support team, raising more than £10,000 for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Fund on the way.

And the Leicestershire mum of one, who announced on the course that she was 16 weeks pregnant with her second child, took in the final mile of the famous course with thousands of supporters cheering her on.

The story captured the hearts and minds of the nation, with Farah calling Claire ‘amazing’ after her Great North Run finish.

Farah said: “It’s pretty amazing for someone to have gone through everything she’s gone through, and yet still manage to finish the Great North Run. I just want to congratulate her and her team. This is what the Great North Run is about.

“Anyone can come out and have the motivation, and for someone like her to do that is pretty amazing.

“We just need to encourage other people to do it, and I just want to congratulate everyone who’s behind her and herself. For her to have the courage to complete is pretty amazing.”

Claire said: “I’m so relieved to have finished. It was incredible. I had so much support from everyone on the course.

“There were times when I thought I was going to quit, and I questioned whether I was going to be here today, but I’m so glad I made it.”

The Great North Run had a global theme for 2016 with more countries represented than any other running event in history, with 178 registered for the half marathon.

The initiative prompted UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon to praise the iconic event, saying in a message to runners: “Communal activities and sports are good for people, communities and society as a whole. They can make an important contribution to development and peace.

“The Great North Run is an example of how sport empowers, motivates and inspires. It does all this while raising money for many worthwhile causes.

“The Great North Run is a true celebration of humanity, commitment and personal achievement.

“In a culture that loves to celebrate winners, this event makes winners of all its participants.

“I celebrate you all, and wish you the best of luck.”

For the first time ever, there were two members of the Farah family on the results as Mo’s wife Tania took part in her first Great North Run. Mo has been helping Tania with her training ahead of her first organised running event, and was there to welcome her over the line when she finished approximately 45 minutes after her husband.

In the men’s wheelchair race, it was a British 1-2-3, with Mark Telford winning in 49.03, just in front of Bret Crossley in 49.03 and Callum Hall in 50.42.

The Great North Run provided the crowning glory on a spectacular weekend of first-class sport, with around 7,000 young runners taking part in the Mini and Junior Great North Runs on Saturday, along with a thousand runners in the Great North 5k.

Meanwhile, 25,000 spectators were in attendance to see double Olympic champion David Rudisha and Briton Lynsey Sharp smash world best times in the 500m on the specially constructed athletics arena on the banks of the Tyne, where Greg Rutherford took victory in the long jump.

The 2017 Great North Run will be staged on September 10th. The entry reminder service is open at grtrun.org/GNRReminder