Farah The Star Attraction In Huge Great North Weekend

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The Morrisons Great North Run, now officially the millionaire of running events, is getting ready to welcome a field of 57,000 foot-sloggers of all abilities – from the world-beating Mo Farah to the most modest of joggers – as the climax to another weekend extravaganza of athletics action on Tyneside.

The world's greatest half marathon gained recognition from the International Association of Athletics Federations last year after Tracey Cramond, a 51-year-old NHS worker and grandmother from Darlington, became the one-millionth runner to cross the finish line since the 13.1 mile run from Newcastle to South Shields was inaugurated in 1981.

Now in its 35th year, and with the all-time finishing tally up to 1,006,379, the 2015 edition of the Morrisons Great North Run will feature a field of 57,000 souls, all running for a variety of noble causes and generating a unique atmosphere on the road from Newcastle to the North Sea coast.

Up at the front of the elite men's race, Farah will be hoping to repeat his success of twelve months ago, just a fortnight after retaining his 5000m and 10,000m titles at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing. The 32-year-old home hero of the 2012 Olympics will be up against Kenya's Mike Kigen, who pushed him all of the way to the line last year. He will be looking to become only the second Briton to win the race for a second time, after Tynesider Mike McLeod, who triumphed in the first two Great North Runs in 1981 and 1982.

Kenya's Mary Keitany defends the elite women's crown, while Britain's five time Paralympic gold medallist David Weir will be going for a record equalling sixth victory in the men's wheelchair race.

Farther back in the field, thousands of fun runners will be clocking up the miles to raise vital cash for a huge array of charities. Television presenter Professor Brian Cox is running in aid of the Jon Egging Trust, Terry Deary, author of the Horrible Histories series, is running in support of the Grace House Children's Hospice.

More than 150,000 runners and supporters are expected to flood into Tyneside over the course of the weekend, which kicks off on Saturday with the Morrisons Great North 5k and the Morrisons Junior and Mini Great North Run.

Also on Saturday afternoon, crowds of 25,000 spectators are expected to pack the NewcastleGateshead Quayside to watch the seventh Great North CityGames.

The hugely popular street athletics event has attracted many of the stars from the recent World Championships, including Great Britain's long jump gold medallist Greg Rutherford, Dutch sprinter Dafne Schippers, American sprinter Allyson Felix, Kenyan middle distance man Asbel Kiprop and Cuban pole vaulter Yarisley Silva.

The Great North CityGames will be shown live on BBC One from 14.00-16.00 on Saturday 12 September. Four hours live BBC One coverage of the Morrisons Great North Run starts at 09.30 on Sunday 13 September with a highlights programme on BBC Two from 18.00-19.00.

Here are some pictures from today's press call at St James' Park in Newcastle.


With Mo Farah, Greg Rutherford, Peter Beardsley, Jo Pavey and Gemma Steel

Posted by Great North Run on Friday, 11 September 2015