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It’s a one-in-a-million
9:30am Monday 16th September 2013 in News
ORGANISERS of the Great North Run will be looking for their millionth finisher next year after witnessing arguably the greatest ever ending to the event yesterday.
In a head-to-head finale, world and Olympic champion Mo Farah was pipped at the post by long-distance great Kenenisa Bekele.
Farah narrowly missed out on becoming the first UK runner in 25 years to win the elite men’s race when the Ethiopian held him off.
While the thrilling finish will be remembered by millions of television viewers, no less cherished will be the personal memories of the 56,000 people taking part – each with their own stories and challenges.
About £28m is expected to be raised for charity through their efforts and organisers are already preparing for next year when the landmark runner is expected to cross the line.
Despite the odd shower and blustery winds, thousands lined the course between Newcastle and South Shields to cheer on the runners.
The 33rd Bupa Great North Run was started by world 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu and England cricketer Graeme Swann, with the Red Arrows flying in formation over the Tyne Bridge.
Runners turned up in every conceivable costume, including pantomime dromedary camels and 20 dressed as penguins who had cycled up from Leeds for the event.
Included among the ranks of the celebrities were Spice Girl Mel C and BBC presenter Sophie Raworth, while former footballer Robbie Savage found himself in rare agreement with Premier League referee Mark Halsey as they crossed the finishing line together.
Among the television shows represented included Emmerdale, EastEnders, Robin Hood and Silent Witness.
There was also an elite group of 117 people who can boast of having taken part in every Great North Run so far.
The previous day, more than 5,000 youngsters showed the adults and professionals how it is done when they took part in the Bupa Mini Great North Run.
David Hart, of organiser Nova International, said: “The day was a resounding success. They were challenging weather conditions – it wasn’t perfect, but I think the runners would have taken that over 28 degrees heat.
“It is an event the whole region should be proud of. The true story of the Great North Run was the record number of people who crossed the finishing line.”
Runners stream through Gateshead in the early stage of yesterday’s Great North Run
He added: “It is an extremely substantial fundraising event and extremely important in terms of the economic impact on the region. The hotels and restaurants have been full.”
He added: “The 34th Great North Run, in 2014, will commemorate the millionth person crossing the finishing line.
“We will be the first major athletic event to have achieved that. It will be an incredible milestone.”
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