Great North Run Goes Global For 36Th Staging

Great Comeback 2

The Great North Run, officially the world's biggest half marathon, will welcome the world's runners to the north-east of England this weekend, providing the crowning glory in a packed weekend of top-class sporting action.

Now in its 36th year, this year's event boasts a global theme. The Great North Run will have more countries represented in a single running event in history.

Runners from 178 different nations will be represented as part of the World's Favourite Run campaign, from Azerbaijan to Zambia, on Sunday.

Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah is looking to make it three Great North Run wins in a row, fresh from his latest successes in the Olympic Games. The 33-year-old took gold in the 10,000m and 5,000m in Rio this summer, completing the ‘double-double', and now bids to become the first runner to win three Great North Runs in a row.

For the first time ever, there will be two members of the Farah family on the results as Mo's wife Tania takes part in her first Great North Run. Mo has been helping Tania with her training ahead of her first organised running event.

In 2014 Farah became the first British man to win the Great North Run since Steve Kenyon in 1985, and his 2015 time of 59.22 is a British record.

He will find opposition in the shape of American Dathan Ritzenhein, the World Half Marathon Championships bronze medallist.

Kenyan Emmanuel Bett bids to complete a rare double having won the Great South Run ten-mile event in 2013. Bett was formerly the fastest man in the world over 10,000m in 2014.

Olympic gold medallists Vivian Cheruiyot and Tirunesh Dibaba will take on Priscah Jeptoo in a superb women's field in the world famous half marathon.

Cheruiyot will make her Great North Run debut having taken victory over 5,000m in Rio, following her silver medal over the 10,000m a week earlier in which Dibaba won bronze.

The Great North Run is famous for its celebrity runners who raise money and awareness for charity, and 2016 is no different.

The Kaiser Chiefs will be represented at the start line, with frontman Ricky Wilson presenting on BBC One and bandmate Nick ‘Peanut' Baines taking part in the half marathon before heading back to Newcastle to play a gig at the Metro Radio Arena as part of the Run Rock n Raise event on Sunday night, raising money for the Graham Wylie Foundation.

Former Sunderland defender Michael Gray is confirmed as taking part along with teammate Kevin Kilbane, while ex-Bolton Wanderers and England striker Kevin Davies makes his half marathon debut.

Impressionist Jon Culshaw will be joined by TV presenter Nell McAndrew, Emmerdale actress Eden Taylor Draper and Horrible Histories author Terry Deary.

For one woman, the Great North Run journey started four days early. Inspirational Claire Lomas, paralysed from the chest down in a riding accident nine years ago, began her half marathon on Wednesday morning and is attempting to walk three miles a day in a bionic suit.

Claire, 36, hopes to complete the Great North Run on Sunday, taking in the final mile along the coast where it is expected she will finish before the elite runners and wheelchair entrants.

The Leicestershire fundraiser will be raising money for the Nicholls Spinal Injury Fund which funds research into a cure for paralysis – and she has already smashed her £10,000 target for the Great North Run as her story captured the hearts and minds of the region.

Ensuring it is something for all the family, Claire's five-year-old daughter Maisie will take part in Saturday's Mini Great North Run which, along with the Junior Great North Run, sees almost 7,000 youngsters running on the banks of the Tyne.

The Mini and Junior Great North Runs will bring the curtain up on a top-class weekend of sporting action alongside the Great North 5k and the Great North CityGames, the street-level athletics meeting on the Newcastle/Gateshead quayside.

The free event gives spectators their first opportunity to see Great Britain's newly-crowned athletes in action after the Olympic Games.

Greg Rutherford, members of the 100m women's relay team and 4x400m relay bronze medallist Anyika Onuora will be showing off their silverware alongside British 1500m record holder Laura Muir at the unique athletics event, which will see up to 25,000 fans descend on to the banks of the Tyne.

Double Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha will take on British 400m specialist Martyn Rooney over the 500m distance at the street-level athletics event held on the banks of the Tyne on Saturday in his first event since taking Olympic gold in Rio de Janeiro.

The Great North CityGames, will be shown live on BBC One from 2.15pm, while the Great North Run will be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, 11 September, between 9.30am and 1.30pm, with a highlights show on BBC Two at 6pm.