Two-hundred Gurkha soldiers from Catterick Garrison joined over 5,000 runners to take part in the Great North 10k Gateshead which is celebrating a record number of entries for 2016.
The thousands of runners in the North-East's biggest 10K pounded the pavements of the scenic NewcastleGateshead Quayside, passing the iconic sights of Sage Gateshead, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.
Runners were set off by legendary folk-rock band Lindisfarne, who were honorary starters of the event.
The North East music icons, whose popular hits include Fog on the Tyne and Run For Home, have also lent their song name to the infamous 9k hill on the course, after the Great North 10k social media followers voted that it should be named “Slog on the Tyne.”
Co-founding band member Rod Clements said: “It's fantastic to be here today to start the Great North 10k Gateshead, we were delighted to be involved after hearing that they have used one of our songs as inspiration for the hill on the course.
“Slog on the Tyne is a great addition and it's lovely to see so many runners come along to the event for so many different reasons and be supported by their families.
“It's a great way to bring people together seeing lots of happy faces enjoying a great day out and cheering people on is fabulous for the region.”
The Gurkha soldiers gathered on the start line in their own separate wave and took on the event as part of their training programme.
Major Ed Withey, Commander of the Gurkha programme at Catterick Garrison, added: “They are the best of the best, we selected these 200 recruits from around 10,000 and they are the elite of their group.
“Everyone was so excited to be here today, it's a first for some of the recruits and they don't get to see much beyond the walls of the barracks so this is a great experience for them.”
The 10k is the sister event to the Great North Run, the world's favourite run, and thousands of participants crossed the finish line as part of their training for the half marathon on September 11.
The Great North 10k is also the relation of Great Britain's first ever-fun run, set up by Brendan Foster, which started and finished inside Gateshead International Stadium in 1977.
The thousands of runners that took part today (3 July) are part of the history of the Gateshead Fun Run, crossing the finish line on the very same athletics track of the iconic stadium.
For the first time, the Great North 10k also featured two brand new family events, where hundreds of children and their families got the chance to take on a shorter running route.
The Great North 10k Family Mile and Great North 10k Toddler Dash honorary starters were the Petrucci family, from Sunderland, who raised a whopping £50,000 for the Children's Heart Unit Fund (CHUF) at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle after their daughter Luna was diagnosed with two holes in her heart at birth.
CHUF was the local nominated charity for the Great North 10k Gateshead and Luna, Mum Emma, Dad Sergio and her brother Enzo jumped down from the podium to join the last wave of runners and take part in the Family Mile after officially starting the run.
The Great North 10k is the premium event for club runners in the northeast and this year, a record number of 235 runners from 11 clubs across the region took part.
The first male across the line in the 10k was Sparrow Morely, who sprinted home in a time of 34:27, swiftly followed by Luke Duffy in 34:45 in second place with David Cole following in third with 35:05.
Sparrow, who runs with Sunderland Harriers, said: “This is the third time I have ran the Great North 10k but it feels great to come first for the very first time.
“I train in this stadium so it's a special moment. I've ran up that hill many times and although it's tough, there were a lot of supporters round there and they really helped you make it to the top.”
In the women's, Michelle Nolan claimed victory in 38:24 ahead of Mary Ferrier who followed her across the line in 40:19. Third place was claimed by Louise Talman in 42:00.
Michelle, of Gateshead Harriers, said: “I came third last year and although I seemed to have ran at a slower pace, it was fast enough to win it this year which is fantastic.”
Mark Rutherford, of the Great Run Company, said “2016 is a record year for the Great North 10k Gateshead which has grown to become the North East's biggest 10k running event with over 5,000 runners.
“It's also the perfect opportunity for many runners to get some important training miles in ahead of the Great North Run in September.
“With the return of the Gurkha soldiers and some fantastic new additions like Slog on the Tyne, the event has welcomed thousands of people to the iconic Gateshead International stadium for a special day in the region's running calendar.
“We're thrilled to have been able to include a family element in the event this year and we hope to inspire the young runners of the future to take on the 10k in the years to come."