Two virtual running challenges created by the organisers of the Great North Run are expected to raise £250,000 for the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal.

Great Run Solo and Great North Run Solo have reached 30,000 entries to date, with the latter achieving over 20,000 of those in just three weeks. Organisers believe it is the biggest virtual running challenge launched by an individual event in the UK.

The combined fundraising total stands at over £200,000 and this is expected to rise to a quarter of a million in the coming weeks.

Great Run Solo was initially introduced in May to provide running challenges to keep people active during the lockdown period, and Great North Run Solo was formed to celebrate the 40th staging of the iconic half marathon after its cancellation due to the public health crisis caused by Coronavirus. 

Both continue to raise vital funds for the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal, with all profits going to the charity, which meets the immediate needs of patients, staff and volunteers affected by the virus.

Launched on the 28 June, the anniversary of the first ever Great North Run, Great North Run Solo challenges runners to complete 40 runs up until the 13 September, the day the 40th event was scheduled to take place.

It is part of a wider campaign called Great North Run Reimagined, providing runners with two virtual running propositions; Great North Run Solo to take them through what would have been the traditional training period and the Official Virtual Great North Run to give an on the day virtual race experience - with more details to be announced in the coming weeks.

Paul Foster, chief executive of The Great Run Company said: “Even though the Great North Run won't take place on the ground, we still have thousands of people who want to celebrate this iconic event and we're thrilled that so many people have entered the Great North Run Solo virtual running challenge.

“We believe it is the biggest virtual running challenge that has been launched by a single event in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic – if not ever. Coupled with the entries from the Great Run Solo challenge, it is set to raise up to a quarter of a million pounds for the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal, giving back to our heroes in the NHS.

“From the solo training runs to the virtual event itself, the entire Great North Run Reimagined campaign will provide an experience as close as possible to the real thing and give everyone an opportunity to still commemorate the event in 2020.”

Sir James Mackey, chief executive of Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is a great shame that the Great North Run will not be held as it usually is this year and we're delighted that the organisers are enabling people to still take part in some form and reap the benefits – both physical and mental – that running brings. The Great North Run is a local, and national treasure, and is so important to the North East in so many ways – not least the broader health and wellbeing impact it has.

“As a long-standing member of NHS Charities Together, we have been very impressed at the speed at which funding has been sent to member charities to make a positive difference to staff on the frontline and patients.

“We'd urge people to get involved in the virtual challenges and ensure the Great North Run still has a presence in 2020.”

Great North Run Solo entries are open until 31st July. Those taking part can run any pace or distance they're comfortable with and everyone who completes the challenge will receive a special edition medal. The challenge costs £10 to join, and all profits will go to the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal. Organisers are also encouraging everyone who joins Great North Run Solo to fundraise for a charity who otherwise would miss out this year.

To find out more an enter visit greatrun.org/north