FORMER Olympic medallist Brendan Foster today (Wednesday, June 5) laid claim to having organised the UK’s first fun run, as he returned to the scene of the historic North-East event.

The sporting legend said it had become part of folklore that the Sunday Times Fun Run launched in September 1978 was the first event of its kind in the country.

But “digging around boxes” at home Mr Foster discovered irrefutable evidence that a Fun Run held at the Gateshead International Stadium a year earlier could lay claim to that sporting title.

He has now invited anyone who may have taken part in the original event to be guests at the Bupa Great North 10k Gateshead, which will take place at the same venue on the final day of the Gateshead European Athletics Team Championships on Sunday, June 23.

Mr Foster said: “If you look at the history books they will tell you the fun run boom and recreational running (in the UK) was attributed to the Sunday Times National Fun Run, launched in September 1978.

“It was a huge event until it was overtaken by the Great North Run and London Marathon.

“But I have just uncovered cuttings found in box at home which shows the Gateshead Fun Run was the first-ever in Great Britain.

“I didn’t know that. I knew about the event and that we had staged it, but never realised we had staged it in 1977.”

The Sunday Times report recording the Gateshead event was headlined 'All the lads an’ lasses there, all wi’ bright red faces'.

Mr Foster said , he vividly recalled the first two-mile Fun run, which started 20 minutes before a track event.

Mr Foster said: “These people don’t realise they were the pioneers and what we would really like to do is find a couple of them.

“We would love them to come and join us on June 23 as our guests – or maybe even run again.”

Olympic champion Mo Farah has confirmed he will be available to compete in the European Athletics Team Championships on June 22 to 23.

Entries for the Bupa Great North 10k Gateshead are open at and tickets for the championships are available at 

Anyone who took part in first Fun Run can email