Sir Mo Farah will cross the final finish line of his professional career on Sunday as he takes on the iconic AJ Bell Great North Run for the last time. The four-time Olympic Champion and six-time World Champion is also a six-time winner of the event.
Farah said, “I have so many incredible memories of racing at the Great North Run, I didn’t win in 2013 but there was so much support for me all along the course. Even at the finish line in the pouring rain, all I can remember was people shouting my name, it made me even more determined to come back and do them proud.
“From 2014 onwards I won the event in front of that incredible crowd six times. There were some really tough races, but the phenomenal support always saw me through “It’s fitting the AJ Bell Great North Run will be my last ever race as an elite athlete. It will definitely be emotional, but I’m so happy to have the opportunity to celebrate the end of my professional career on that famous finish line.”
Farah will be joined on the start line by 60,000 other runners, all with their own reasons for taking on the legendary 13.1 mile challenge from Newcastle to South Shields. His own personal story, which took him from Somalia to the UK and on to the global stage, has captured the hearts of millions. In recognition of that extraordinary journey, this year the event is celebrating the #powerofrunning to change lives in ways both big and small.
Setting them all on their way will be Newcastle United Manager Eddie Howe, Under Howe’s stewardship the club has enjoyed a meteoric rise up the table, qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in twenty years. Eddie will also be the first Newcastle Manager to start the Great North Run since Sir Bobby Robson, who was also the last manager to take the team to the Champions League.
Other well-known faces expected on the start line include; renowned entrepreneur Sara Davies (Durham and Darlington NHS Trust Charity), comedian Lee Ridley (Smile for Life), Emmerdale stars Laura Norton (CureUSHER) and Isabel Hodgins, BBC presenter OJ Borg, new DS Chris Oliver from Channel 4’s SAS Who Dare’s Wins, former boxer Rendall Munroe (Bodhi Hodges Foundation) former Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips (Red Sky Foundation), rugby league legends Barrie McDermott and Terry O’Connor (MNDA) and the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham.
In the elite race, Farah will be lining up alongside Ethiopian Muktar Edris, a 2-time World Champion over 5000m, Belgium’s Bashir Abdi who took Bronze at the Olympic Marathon in Tokyo and fellow Brit Andrew Butchart, a five-time national champion and two-time Olympian.
In the women’s elite race Olympic Marathon Champion Peres Jepchirchir will be looking for the win after taking second place behind Helen Obiri at last year’s event. Jepchirchir is also a two-time World Champion over the half marathon distance and a previous winner of the New York and Boston Marathons.
Strong competition will come in the form of her compatriot Sharon Lokedi who was last year’s New York Marathon Champion and came 4th in her previous Great North Run outing, while British interest comes in the form of Charlotte Purdue and Amy-Eloise Markovc.
In the elite wheelchair race last year’s winner 2022 champion David Weir and 2021 champion Sean Frame will face Paralympic Silver medallist and Commonwealth Champion Nathan Maguire. In the women’s race last year’s top finishers World Champion Sammy Kinghorn and Eden Rainbow-Cooper will be battling for the top spot against seven-time Paralympic Hannah Cockcroft.
The AJ Bell Junior & Mini Great North Run will welcome 10,000 children on Saturday 9 September, making the 2023 the biggest yet. In celebration of Sir Mo’s Olympic moment at London 2012, this year’s AJ Bell Junior and Mini Great North Run is SUPER SATURDAY! kids have been invited to dress in HERO fancy dress – picking their favourite SUPERhero, sports hero or local hero to dress up as. The event will once again include the Mini 50, a 50m course for children who wouldn’t ordinarily be able to participate in the Junior and Mini age group events, due to their specific needs.
On Friday 8 September, the AJ Bell Great North Run weekend gets underway with the UK Road Championships, which will see some of the UK’s best athletes battling it out to be crowned champion across 5k and 1-mile distances. The action continues into the evening with the AJ Bell Great North 5k. 1500 runners will be taking on a fun, fast, flat 5k on the Quayside ahead of the main event on Sunday.
Charlie Musson, brand and PR director at AJ Bell, said: “The Great North Run is an iconic sporting event and AJ Bell is honoured to be supporting it for the next five years. “This year we have the added attraction of it being Sir Mo Farah’s last ever competitive race so people have the opportunity to come and cheer on a true legend of British sport for the last time. It’s set to be a fantastic event once again, with 60,000 runners aiming for personal milestones and raising millions of pound for great causes.”
Sir Brendan Foster, Founder of the Great North Run said, “After three challenging years we’re really looking forward to celebrating Sir Mo Farah’s last ever professional race with a business-as-usual Great North Run. “We know how much the people of the region have taken Mo to their hearts and we hope as many people as possible come out to cheer him on and give our greatest ever sportsman the send-off he deserves.”
The 42nd AJ Bell Great North Run takes place on Sunday 10 September. The event will be televised live on BBC One from 10:00 – 14:00.