Hellen Obiri won back to back Great North Runs as the world’s most iconic half marathon returned to its traditional course.
Obiri continued Kenya’s dominance of the famous race, repeating her victory of 12 months ago as the event took place in its rightful home following an altered course in 2021 while the world recovered from the coronavirus pandemic.
Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo won the men’s race following a thrilling three-way battle for much of the race distance.
The race took on a suitably subdued mood as runners paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, who died on Thursday, and it was perhaps fitting that in Kenya and Uganda, the winners of the women’s and men’s races were members of the Commonwealth, of which the Queen was head.
Obiri was given close attention by Britain’s Eilish McColgan in the 2021 staging of the 13.1-mile race, but while McColgan was not involved in the race today – she was on official starter duties – the Kenyan was instead given a tough test by Peres Jepchirchir and Almaz Ayana, the three crossing the line with only five seconds separating them.
Obiri crossed the line in 67.05, with Jepchirchir two seconds behind in 67.07, and Ayana in 67.10. First Brit over the line was Charlotte Purdue, who ran a largely solo race to finish in fifth with a time of 70.11.
Winner Obiri said: “I’m very happy to win again, although of course this route was different to last year. The crowds were so good, I am very pleased to win here.”
In the men’s race, Kiplimo quietly and confidently picked off his opponents, with 2013 winner Kenenisa Bekele, who finished an eventual third, dropping first, followed by second-place Selemon Barega with about four miles to go, leaving Kiplimo with clear air to finish in 59.33, Barega in 60.39 and Bekele in 61.01.
Kiplimo said: “The race was good – it was a great feeling to win. It was a strange feeling to run the last few kilometres on my own. From 10KM it was four or five of us, then three, then two, then just me.
“This is a wonderful crowd. Around 18-19KM the crowds were amazing. Everyone was cheering and smiling.
“When I heard the news (about the Queen) I thought the race was going to be cancelled – I was so happy to hear it was still going ahead. It is very sad news but it was good for us all to come together.”
2022 winner Marc Scott was first British runner home in sixth with a time of 62.28.
It was a very different kind of race due to the events of the last few days but it’s a great event as always. They know how to put an event on here in the North East. I’m just grateful to be part of it again, especially with a great field assembled.”
In the wheelchair races, David Weir won his eighth Great North Run in 42.49, closely followed by Daniel Sidbury in 43.01 and Nathan Maguire further back in a time of 46.40.
Eden Rainbow-Cooper crossed the line in 51:27, just edging out Scotland’s Sammy Kinghorn on the line. Shelly Woods came third in 54:50.