THE Great North Run is set to mark its 40th anniversary today promising to be bigger than ever, after being cancelled last year.

Today, Sunday, September 12, the Great North Run, presented by ExpressTest by Cignpost, will mark a momentous milestone its 40th staging.

GNR40, which was postponed last year due to Covid restrictions, will bring 57,000 runners together to mark four decades of the iconic event this weekend.

Sir Brendan Foster, along with his team of original founders, staged the first-ever Great North Run on a sunny day in June, 1981. From day one the Great North Run was breaking records, with around 12,000 runners lining up on the central motorway it instantly became, and remains to this day, the UK’s biggest mass participation running event.

Since 1981 there have been 1.2 million finishers, the event now raises around £25m for charity each year and contributes around £31m to the regional economy.

Sir Brendan said, “It’s a privilege for me to be here talking about the 40th Great North Run, and I’m only able to do that because of the way the event has been embraced by the people of the North East.

“Since the very beginning the Great North Run has been an unapologetic celebration of ordinary people doing extraordinary things – it embodies everything that’s great about the region; our grit, determination and sense of community.

“That support has elevated the event to one of the best in the world, welcoming runners, elite and amateur, from across the globe.

“If you’d told me 40 years ago this is where we’d be I would have found it hard to believe, I can’t wait to see what the next 40 years bring.”

This year’s event will also pay tribute to the heroes of the pandemic. The Great North Thank You Campaign, with the support of proud partners HSBC and North of Tyne Combined Authority, will feature 13 inspirational individuals in a large-scale visual installation along the route of the course.

Four of those heroes, local NHS staff, will also be the event’s official starters. Dr Mickey Jachuck a Consultant Cardiologist from South Tyneside District Hospital, Senior Sister Jade Trewick from the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Community Staff Nurse Dorathy Oparaeche and Deborah Southworth Occupational Health Team Lead at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, will have the honour of officially setting runners on their way.

Things will be different this year, with the course starting and finishing in Newcastle City Centre for the first time. There will also be changes to the start in order to keep runners as safe as possible.

Chief Executive Paul Foster explained, “We’re delighted that we’ve been able to stage this event, despite the uncertainty surrounding pandemic restrictions at the start of the year which meant many events of this scale were postponed or cancelled.

Joining the masses, a competitive elite field will also be in attendance. It will be all change in the elite races in 2021 – on a brand-new course, there will be two first-time winners over the 13.1mile distance.


This year’s Great North Run will be televised live on BBC Two between 09:00 – 10:00 before coverage moves over to BBC One until 13:30.