The Run


Run the Original! Celebrate our 40th Birthday by travelling back in time with us to take part in the original Great North Run – wherever you are in the world.

Free to Enter £

Well Done!

Well done to all runners who completed the GNR81 challenge, you were amazing!
If you are ready to take on another virtual challenge, why not take a look at Great North Run Solo.

Last Chance!

Our exclusive GNR81 official merchandise range has been flying off the shelves.
Make sure you grab yours while you still can. Stock is limited and available until Sunday, once it’s gone, it’s gone!
Order using the links below.

Run Like It's 1981

On 28 June 1981, 12,264 people lined up in Newcastle for the first Great North Run – it was the start of something special.

40 years on, the event has grown into a landmark event on the sporting calendar; 60,000 runners from across the world take part every year, over 1 million people have finished the event, hundreds of millions of pounds have been raised for good causes, and the event has earned the title of the world’s biggest half marathon.

GNR81 gives you the chance to relive the first Great North Run virtually – wherever you are in the world!

The 13.1 Mile Challenge

The challenge is to complete the iconic 13.1 mile distance anytime between 26 – 28 June. You can choose to complete the full distance in one go, or break it up into separate runs. Once you have completed the half marathon distance, simply come back to submit your results (From 26 June) and confirm that you have completed the challenge and you will receive a commemorative GNR81 digital certificate to download.

To ensure everyone can be part of this amazing throwback journey, GNR81 is free to enter.

Our aim is to take you on a retro running adventure to relive the experience of the first ever Great North Run, complete with runners’ stories of ‘the first’, a special GNR classic 80s playlist, the original route map to follow, the chance to wear the original race number, and of course a special message of support from founder Brendan Foster.

There is also a range of exclusive merchandise available to purchase to commemorate your participation and achievement, including a retro version of the first ever finisher’s medal & t-shirt.

Enter now to secure your place in GNR81, it really is a run for the ages!



Funny memories and anecdotes from original race organisers – Sir Brendan Foster and John Caine.


We’ve recreated the Runners Guide from the first Great North Run in 1981.
Download your copy below for messages, advice and do’s and don’ts from the first!

And, as we gear up for the challenge this weekend we thought we’d look back at the ‘good old days’ of 1981.
Read our article highlighting just some of the things runners today take for granted!


Download our GNR81 playlist and recreate sounds from the first with the top tunes from 1981.
Add your own favourite 80’s songs to the playlist, then download and listen as you take on the 13.1 mile virtual challenge and celebrate the 40th.

Join the Club!

Come and join the Great North Run strava club and be part of an online community taking part in our Great North Run challenges. If you track your GNR81 activity on Strava, remember to tag it with #GNR81.

Photos: Courtesy of The Chronicle photo library.

The Challenge


How it works

1 Sign up to GNR81, it's free to enter
2 Get ready to run from 26 June
3 Complete the 13.1 mile distance by midnight 28 June
4 Keep track of your time and distance
5 Submit your results to download your digital certificate
Free to Enter £

Track Your Activity

We suggest you use a tracking app to log your running activity – any tracking app or watch can be used. Once you have completed the 13.1 mile distance come back to this challenge page and submit your results to download your personalised GNR81 digital finishers certificate.

The 13.1 mile distance should be completed by midnight on 28 June. You can choose to complete the full distance in one go, or break it up into separate runs. If you choose to break it up into separate runs you can log these using our online run tracker. The results section and run tracker will be live from 26 June and you can log results up to 5 July.

To log in and submit your results, or use our run tracker, you will need your unique Great Run ID, which can be found in your entry confirmation email.

Good luck!

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