Lavinie Melville

Lavinie Melville

Modified & Updated: 07 Oct 2023


The Great North Run is one of the most iconic and beloved events in the world of long-distance running. Held annually in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, this half marathon attracts thousands of participants from all walks of life. It has gained a reputation as one of the most challenging and rewarding races, drawing both professional athletes and enthusiastic amateurs alike.

In this article, we will explore 17 fascinating facts about the Great North Run that highlight its rich history, impressive statistics, and the incredible accomplishments of its participants. From its humble beginnings to its current status as a world-renowned event, the Great North Run continues to capture the hearts and minds of runners and spectators around the globe.

Table of Contents

The Great North Run is the largest half marathon in the world.

The Great North Run, held annually in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, attracts over 57,000 participants, making it the biggest half marathon event globally.

The inaugural Great North Run took place in 1981.

Established by former Olympic 10,000-meter bronze medalist Brendan Foster, the event has been held every year since then, growing in popularity and prestige.

The course takes runners through iconic landmarks.

Participants of the Great North Run have the opportunity to run through famous Newcastle landmarks such as the Tyne Bridge and pass by the breathtaking coastlines of South Shields.

The Great North Run attracts elite athletes from around the world.

The race has seen renowned runners such as Mo Farah, Paula Radcliffe, and Haile Gebrselassie compete for victory, adding to its reputation as a top-tier athletic event.

Over one million spectators line the route to cheer on runners.

The Great North Run brings communities together, with an estimated one million supporters lining the streets, creating an incredible atmosphere of encouragement and enthusiasm.

Participants raise millions for charity.

The event has a long-standing tradition of charitable fundraising, with runners collectively raising millions of pounds for various causes each year.

The Great North Run has a unique “Red Arrows” flypast.

As a special highlight, the world-famous Royal Air Force aerobatic team, the Red Arrows, perform a flypast just before the start of the race, thrilling both participants and spectators.

The Great North Run has expanded internationally.

The success of the Great North Run has led to the establishment of similar events around the world, including the Great South Run and the Great East Run.

The Great North Run has a wheelchair race category.

The event is inclusive to athletes with disabilities, with a dedicated wheelchair race category allowing for wheelchair participants to compete alongside runners.

The Great North Run is estimated to bring substantial economic benefits.

The influx of participants and spectators during the event contributes significantly to the local economy, with businesses in Newcastle experiencing a surge in revenue.

The Great North Run attracts participants of all ages.

From elite athletes to casual runners, the event welcomes people of all ages and fitness levels, fostering a sense of inclusivity and community.

The Great North Run has seen record-breaking finish times.

Elite athletes have set impressive records at the event, with the men’s record currently standing at 58 minutes and 56 seconds, and the women’s record at 1 hour, 5 minutes, and 40 seconds.

The Great North Run has inspired other fundraising runs.

The concept of using half marathons as a platform for charitable fundraising has been replicated in various cities worldwide, all stemming from the success of the Great North Run.

The Great North Run has been featured in popular culture.

The event has been referenced in television shows, movies, and even inspired the 2013 documentary “Runners,” showcasing the stories of numerous participants.

The Great North Run has a rich history of famous participants.

Over the years, celebrities such as Sir Richard Branson, Ellie Goulding, and Nell McAndrew have taken on the challenge of the Great North Run, adding to its appeal.

The Great North Run has a festive atmosphere.

The event takes place during the September month, when the weather is usually pleasant, adding to the celebratory ambiance surrounding the race.

The Great North Run has become a symbol of endurance and achievement.

Completing the Great North Run is seen as a significant accomplishment for both first-time and experienced runners, representing dedication, perseverance, and personal triumph.


The Great North Run is more than just a half marathon. It is an iconic event that brings together people from all walks of life, pushing themselves to achieve their personal best and supporting charitable causes along the way. With its rich history, stunning course, and vibrant atmosphere, it has become a must-do event for runners and spectators alike. Whether you’re a seasoned runner or someone looking to take on a new challenge, the Great North Run offers an unforgettable experience that will leave you inspired and motivated. So lace up your running shoes and join the thousands of participants as they tackle the challenging 13.1-mile course from Newcastle to South Shields. The Great North Run is an event like no other, and it’s one that you don’t want to miss.


1. When is the Great North Run?

The Great North Run takes place annually on the second Sunday of September.

2. How long is the Great North Run?

The Great North Run is a half marathon, covering a distance of 13.1 miles.

3. Where does the Great North Run start and finish?

The race begins in Newcastle upon Tyne and ends in South Shields, along the coast of northeastern England.

4. Can anyone participate in the Great North Run?

Yes, anyone over the age of 17 can participate in the Great North Run. However, there may be specific requirements for certain categories, such as wheelchair or elite runners.

5. How can I register for the Great North Run?

You can register for the Great North Run through their official website. Keep in mind that registration often fills up quickly, so it’s best to sign up as early as possible.

6. Is there a time limit for completing the Great North Run?

Yes, participants have a maximum of 4 hours to complete the race.

7. Are there water stations along the course?

Yes, there are several water stations along the course to keep participants hydrated.

8. Can I run for a charity during the Great North Run?

Absolutely! The Great North Run encourages participants to run for their chosen charity and raise funds for a worthy cause.

9. Are there any training tips for preparing for the Great North Run?

Yes, it’s important to follow a training plan that gradually increases your mileage and includes cross-training exercises to build endurance and strength. It’s also essential to listen to your body and give yourself enough rest and recovery.

10. Can I spectate the Great North Run?

Yes, spectators are welcome along the course to cheer on the participants and soak up the energetic atmosphere.