Popular North East running club, the Tyne Bridge Harriers, has won the top prize in the 2015 Great Club Challenge, supported by England Athletics and Scottish Athletics.

Fourteen members of the club will travel to Ethiopia on the trip of a lifetime, to join around 37,000 people at the Great Ethiopian Run on 22 November 2015.

Taking place on the streets of the country's capital, Addis Ababa, the trip includes an opportunity to stay and train at the famous Yaya Village, used by many of the world's top athletes, which sits at an altitude of 2,700 meters above sea level, as well as a personal meeting with the world's greatest ever distance runner, Haile Gebrselassie.
 
This year's Great Club Challenge, supported by England Athletics and Scottish Athletics, was made up of eight Great Run events, and 4712 athletes from 128 clubs qualified to take part.

Tyne Bridge Harriers, who had the seven fastest men and seven fastest women at the Morrisons Great North Run in September, were entered into a prize draw along with last year's overall winners Stockport Harriers, who triumphed at the Morrisons Great Manchester Run. 

Other running clubs that made it into the draw included Gateshead Harriers from the Morrisons Great North 10k, Bournville Harriers from the Morrisons Great Birmingham 10k, Black Pear Joggers from the Morrisons Great Birmingham Run, Winchester Running Club from the Morrisons Great South Run, Jog Scotland from the Morrisons Great Edinburgh Run and finally Shettleston Harriers from the Bank of Scotland Great Scottish Run.

The draw took place after the Great South Run, the final event in the Great Run series, which saw thousands of people take on 10 miles in Portsmouth on Sunday 25 October.

Dave Moir, one of the founding members of Tyne Bridge Harriers, said: “We were all waiting on tender hooks on the day of the Great South Run. Then that evening we got a call saying we had won the Great Club Challenge, and fourteen lucky runners from Tyne Bridge Harriers are going to Ethiopia to meet the great Haile Gebrselassie.

“The club has achieved a great deal in its short five year history, but for me, this is going to be one of the highlights. It's really nice that hard work and dedication in training for the Great North Run not only resulted in many PBs, but is also being rewarded with the trip of a lifetime.”

Great Run Elite Athlete Manager Tom Broadbent, said: “This is the third year of the Great Club Challenge and it's growing every year. We're really happy to work with both England Athletics and Scottish Athletics to offer this opportunity to clubs that have supported our events for many years.”

The winning club from each event will also receive £500 towards club funds and 15 free entries to their respective 2016 Great Run. Ten and five free entries will be awarded to the second and third placed clubs.

England Athletics Head of Competition Andy Day, said: “Each of the Great Run events gives athletes of a wide range of abilities a great opportunity for competition. The Great Club Challenge has brought a new element to these events, which is exclusive to affiliated clubs and their registered athletes. The format of the times from the first seven registered male and female competitors all contributing to the club's performance has seen a real range of clubs coming to the fore this year.

“Congratulations to Tyne Bridge Harriers, as well as to all the other clubs who won prizes this year. I am sure the trip to Ethiopia will be an unforgettable experience for all the Tyne Bridge members who go."

scottishathletics CEO Nigel Holl said: “Our athletics clubs are at the very heart of our sport, and the Great Club Challenge is a fantastic way to support the vital work they do – as well as adding to the competitive spirit at Great Run events.

“To see our recreational running network, jogscotland, winning the Club Challenge in Edinburgh was testament to jogscotland's ability to support all levels of runner, from those taking their first jog to truly competitive athletes. The prize money is enabling us to train more Jog Leaders, and increase jogscotland's reach even further.

“We know that Shettleston Harriers will also be using their prize money from the Great Scottish Run to develop the great work they do.

“Congratulations to all the winning clubs this year – bring on 2016!” 

Find out more about the Great Club Challenge