Great North Run founder Brendan Foster believes Britain is ready to welcome the world with open arms after the launch of the event's most ambitious plan to date.
The Great World Run campaign seeks to recruit one runner from every country in the United Nations – 193 in total – to take part in the iconic half marathon in September.
The search has began to find runners from the remaining countries, with people urged to get in touch if they know anyone who would qualify to take part.
And Brendan, who launched the Great North Run in 1981 when 12,000 ran from Newcastle to South Shields, is confident that although the next stage in the event's development is an ambitious plan, it will make the weekend all the more spectacular.
“It's the biggest event in the world. What we're saying is that it's the world's favourite run, because we've had more runners than anywhere else in the world. Now we want the world to come and join us,” said Brendan, at the event's launch held at Newcastle's Centre for Life on Wednesday.
“When we started this off we didn't know what was going to happen. From day one, the Great North Run has been the biggest mass participation event in Britain.
“We've had 36 years at number one in the charts. More than Sting or Mark Knopfler! And more than Ant and Dec. We've grown the event – we've had world records here, the millionth finisher.
“We've had staging posts. This is an ambitious one.
“We need the help from readers, runners, the Foreign Office, IAAF, because it's an ambition that if it comes off, will be a great statement for us to say our arms are open, and we're ready to welcome the world.
“I'm certain that if we do achieve this, the people will support it, and the people that come will say it's great, because that's why they keep coming back."