The Simplyhealth Great North Run, the world’s biggest half marathon, will once again welcome 57,000 participants to the North-East of England for the annual celebration of running which forms the pinnacle of a weekend of top-class athletics action.
Sunday will see the 37th staging of the United Kingdom’s biggest mass participation running event between Newcastle and South Shields. Broadcast to millions every year on BBC Television, it has been inspiring thousands of people to get active since its inception in 1981.
The weekend will also feature the first-ever Simplyhealth Great Run Day, which has been launched as a celebration of running and movement, with the intention of getting more people active using the flagship running event as an inspiration.
Mo Bidding To Make It Four
Sir Mo Farah will be gunning to win an unprecedented fourth consecutive Simplyhealth Great North Run title.
Great Britain’s greatest ever athlete retired from the track this month, winning gold and silver at the World Athletics Championships in London to add to his four Olympic golds and five World Championship golds, in a track career spanning more than a decade – and is now focusing his efforts on the road, with the world’s biggest half marathon firmly in his sights.
Farah has competed in every Simplyhealth Great North Run since 2013, finishing second in his first outing and winning in 2014, 2015 and 2016. A fourth win for Farah would equal the late Benson Masya’s record, with the Kenyan achieving his quartet of victories in the 1990s.
Farah will face competition for the top spot from Americans Bernard Lagat and Dathan Ritzenhein, who finished second last year, while New Zealand twins Jake and Zane Robertson will bid to become the first Kiwis to win the Simplyhealth Great North Run.
Vivian To Defend Her Title
In the women’s elite race, Olympic and World champion Vivian Cheruiyot will return to Tyneside to defend her title.
The four-time Olympic and five-time World Championship medallist will face stiff opposition on 10 September with marathon world record holder Mary Keitany and Kenyan compatriot Betsy Saina also in contention. Local interest will come from Aly Dixon, the Sunderland Stroller who competed in this summer’s World Championships marathon in London.
Brendan Foster To Fulfil Starters’ Ambition
Brendan Foster, the founder of the Simplyhealth Great North Run, is to be the official race starter.
Brendan has never before been on the start line to witness the thousands of participants set off on their 13.1 mile journey from Newcastle to South Shields.
Brendan, who has taken part in the event three times, will join an illustrious band of people who have performed the starting duties over the last 36 years, including stars from the world of sport and entertainment.
Brendan, who recently retired from his commentary duties with the BBC said, “It will fulfil a long standing ambition to see the start of the Simplyhealth Great North Run and wish everyone all the best.
“When my colleagues at The Great Run Company suggested I should be the starter, I realised I’d actually never seen everyone set off. At least I’ll have a proper job on the day now and I’m really looking forward to the new experience.”
“The Best Of Human Endeavour”
This year’s event is the first under the title sponsorship of Simplyhealth, the UK’s leading provider of everyday health cash plans, dental payment and pet health plans. Chief executive officer Romana Abdin said: “The Simplyhealth Great North Run weekend represents the best of human endeavour.
“This amazing celebration of movement brings people together and demonstrates that no matter what your age, ability or gender, you can achieve ‘greatness’ on your own terms.
“We help people to make the most of life through better everyday health and we know that this iconic event has the power to inspire countless others to do just a little bit more than they did yesterday.
“It doesn’t matter whether that’s running, walking or wheeling; just being one of the millions moving is reward in itself. Every single person here this weekend is showing just how great being active can feel and I’m looking forward to welcoming them all across the finish line.”
As ever, the Simplyhealth Great North Run will be stacked with celebrity runners from the screen and stage, with TV presenter Davina McCall taking on the iconic half marathon for the first time. BBC News presenter Sophie Raworth is also running, while George Rainsford, who plays Ethan Hardy in BBC One drama Casualty, also returns to Tyneside.
Fitness blogger and endurance runner Susie Chan will participate, as will Olympians Gail Emms and Katharine Merry, with Katharine running as one of the Duracell Pacers.
Three professional cricketers will take time off from their day jobs to run their first half marathons – England and Durham opener Keaton Jennings will be joined by Durham teammates Chris Rushworth and Michael Richardson.
The Red Arrows’ traditional fly-past over the Tyne Bridge is one of the most iconic sights in world running, and the display team will be returning once again as runners begin their half marathon from Newcastle.
Running The World
The Great World Run initiative has returned for 2017, with runners born in more than 140 countries represented on the start line, adding to the fact that every single postcode area in the United Kingdom will be represented on Sunday.
The biggest sporting weekend in the North East kicks off on Saturday 9 September when Celebrity chef and campaigner Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall fires the starting gun before running the Simplyhealth Great North 5k.
This year the event has teamed up with the Newcastle Can campaign, offering a separate wave for anyone who has been inspired by this campaign to run alongside Hugh.
The 5k is followed by the Simplyhealth Junior and Mini Great North Run – the UK’s biggest children’s running event. Star athletes competing in Sunday’s Simplyhealth Great North Run will set over 6,500 young runners, budding athletes and school friends on their way around the 1.5k and 4k courses.
Also on Saturday, some of Great Britain’s best athletes including Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, Asha Philip, Desiree Henry, Dina Asher-Smith and Jonnie Peacock will be competing at the Great North CityGames, a live, televised athletics event in a pop-up arena on the Newcastle and Gateshead quayside.
Charity Begins At Home
On Sunday, more than 20,000 entrants will be raising money for their chosen charity, a record amount in the Simplyhealth Great North Run. Last year, an estimated £26million was raised for good causes from the event.
The Simplyhealth Great North Run takes place on Sunday, 10 September, and is broadcast live on BBC One HD from 9.30am until 1.30pm, with highlights on BBC Two at 6pm.
For more information, visit greatrun.org/north