SIR Mo Farah took time out of his preparation for the Simplyhealth Great North Run to surprise a terminally ill man who is taking on the world’s biggest half marathon for charity as part of his bucket list.

Matt Hadden, 28, from Darlington, has terminal bone cancer despite intensive treatment including a leg amputation and chemotherapy.

Throughout this he has received support from Maggie's Newcastle, a centre based at the Freeman Hospital that offers advice and support to those going through cancer.

Sir Mo, Great Britain’s greatest ever athlete, visited the centre today to surprise Matt and the staff at Maggie’s, who thought they were gathering for a team photo ahead of the event.

Matt said: “It was amazing. I am not one for being speechless but that really did take me by surprise, especially coming from my blind side.

“Mo, what a guy. He is such a spokesperson, not only for English sport, but also pride and determination. It was just ‘wow’, amazing.

“He is such a down to Earth, relaxed guy as well. It is amazing what he has done and what he has been able to do in his lifetime.

Matt has visited the centre on a daily basis and had his life and outlook transformed by their care and attention, so much so that he decided to embark on a huge fundraising challenge for them.

Despite his disability, Matt will walk the 13.1 miles after learning how to walk again using a prosthetic leg.

Along with his mum and sister he hopes to raise £2,400 for the centre who have provided emotional and social support to Matt since his diagnosis.  

The athlete, who won gold and silver at the World Athletics Championships in London to add to his four Olympic golds and five World Championship golds, has retired from the track and is now focusing his efforts on the road, with the South Shields finish line in his sights.

He is up against 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 North-East is ready to once again welcome 57,000 participants to the region for the annual celebration of running and world class athletics.

It is the 37th staging of the United Kingdom’s biggest mass participation running event between Newcastle and South Shields since its inception in 1981.

It is being started by race founder Brendan Foster for the first time in its history.

Organisers have announced there will be a minute’s applause at the start line in memory of Mike Neville, the veteran broadcaster, who died this week and was the official starter of the first Great North Run.