Aleda Butterworth

Written by Aleda Butterworth

Modified & Updated: 01 Jun 2024

Sherman Smith

Reviewed by Sherman Smith


The Great North Run is one of the most iconic and beloved events in the running calendar. Since its inception in 1981, this half marathon has become a celebration of determination, community, and athleticism. Every year, thousands of runners from all walks of life gather in Newcastle, England, to participate in this challenging yet thrilling race. But there’s much more to this event than just the race itself. From inspiring stories to record-breaking achievements, the Great North Run has a rich history that makes it truly fascinating. In this article, we will explore 20 captivating facts about the Great North Run that will give you a deeper appreciation for this incredible event.

Key Takeaways:

  • The Great North Run is the largest half marathon in the world, featuring stunning coastal views, celebrity participants, and a strong philanthropic focus, making it a vibrant and inclusive event for all ages and abilities.
  • With its iconic landmarks, world records, and international appeal, the Great North Run has become a symbol of resilience and community spirit, showcasing the power of sport to unite and inspire people from around the globe.
Table of Contents

20 Fascinating Facts About Great North Run

The Great North Run is an iconic half marathon that takes place annually in the North East of England. Known for its vibrant atmosphere and scenic route, it has become one of the most popular running events in the world. Let’s delve into some fascinating facts about the Great North Run.

The Great North Run started in 1981.

Since its inception, the Great North Run has been growing in popularity, attracting thousands of participants from around the globe. It has become a staple event in the running community, celebrating its rich history and encouraging people of all fitness levels to take part.

It is the largest half marathon in the world.

The Great North Run holds this impressive title, with tens of thousands of runners taking part in the event each year. Participants tackle the 13.1-mile route, running from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to South Shields, with the seafront finish offering breathtaking views.

Sir Mo Farah has won the Great North Run several times.

The legendary British long-distance runner, Sir Mo Farah, has dominated the Great North Run, securing victory multiple times. His outstanding performances have added to the prestige and excitement surrounding the event.

It has raised millions for charity.

The Great North Run has a strong philanthropic focus, with participants often running for various charitable causes. Over the years, millions of pounds have been raised, making a significant difference in many people’s lives.

The first female winner of the Great North Run was Spanish athlete, Carmen Valero.

In 1984, Valero made history by becoming the first woman to cross the finish line, setting a remarkable precedent for female runners in the event.

Celebrities have participated in the Great North Run.

The event has attracted a host of well-known faces from the world of entertainment, sports, and media. From professional athletes to actors, musicians, and television personalities, celebrities have added a touch of glamour to the Great North Run experience.

The Great North Run offers stunning coastal views.

As runners make their way along the route, they are treated to breathtaking views of the North East coastline. The combination of the physical challenge and the beautiful surroundings makes the Great North Run a memorable event.

It has its own iconic landmark, the Tyne Bridge.

The Tyne Bridge, a famous symbol of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, plays a significant role in the Great North Run. Runners pass over this iconic bridge at the start of the race, creating an exhilarating moment for all participants.

It welcomes participants of all ages.

The Great North Run promotes inclusivity and encourages people of all ages to participate. From elite athletes to recreational runners and even children, the event offers a range of categories for different age groups.

The Great North Run has its own mascot.

The event’s mascot is a character known as “Brenda the Quayside Seagull.” Brenda adds a touch of fun and excitement to the festivities, providing entertainment for both participants and spectators.

Participants often dress up in creative costumes.

Many Great North Run participants take the opportunity to dress up in imaginative and eye-catching costumes. From superheroes to animals and famous characters, these costumes add to the festive spirit of the event.

There is a Junior Great North Run for younger runners.

The Great North Run isn’t just for adults! The Junior Great North Run allows children aged 9 to 16 to experience the thrill of the event through their own race, inspiring a new generation of runners.

It has a strong support system.

The Great North Run is well-known for its incredible atmosphere and enthusiastic support along the route. Crowds of spectators gather to cheer on the runners, providing encouragement and motivation throughout the race.

The Great North Run has multiple world records.

Over the years, several world records have been set during the Great North Run. From the fastest times to unique achievements, the event has seen some incredible athletic feats.

The Great North Run is broadcasted on television.

Millions of viewers worldwide tune in to watch the Great North Run. Its coverage allows people from all corners of the globe to experience the excitement and energy of this renowned event.

It celebrated its 40th year in 2020.

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great North Run marked its 40th anniversary in 2020, highlighting its enduring success and resilience.

The Great North Run has a dedicated training program.

For those preparing to take on the challenge, the Great North Run provides a comprehensive training program with expert advice and guidance to help participants reach their goals and complete the race successfully.

The event has a rich cultural and community impact.

The Great North Run brings together people from all walks of life and showcases the vibrant culture and community spirit of the North East. It is a testament to the power of sport to unite and inspire.

It attracts international participants.

The Great North Run has gained international recognition and draws participants from around the world. Runners travel far and wide to be part of this incredible event, forming a diverse and global running community.


The Great North Run is not just a race but a celebration of human strength and determination. With its rich history, incredible participation numbers, and stunning route through the heart of Newcastle, it continues to captivate the world of running. From elite athletes to weekend warriors, everyone can take part in this iconic event and experience the camaraderie and sheer exhilaration of crossing the finish line.Whether you’re a seasoned runner or someone looking for a new challenge, the Great North Run offers an unforgettable experience. So lace up your running shoes, join the thousands of participants, and be a part of this legendary event. It’s not just a run; it’s an experience that will stay with you for a lifetime.


1. When is the Great North Run held?

The Great North Run is typically held on the second Sunday of September each year.

2. How long is the Great North Run?

The Great North Run is a half marathon, covering a distance of 13.1 miles (21.1 kilometers).

3. Can anyone participate in the Great North Run?

Yes, the Great North Run is open to all. Whether you’re an elite athlete, a recreational runner, or even a walker, you can take part in the event.

4. How do I register for the Great North Run?

To register for the Great North Run, you can visit their official website and follow the registration process outlined there.

5. Is there a time limit to complete the Great North Run?

Yes, there is a time limit of 3 hours to complete the Great North Run.

6. Are there any age restrictions for participating in the Great North Run?

Participants must be 17 years or older on the day of the race to take part in the Great North Run.

7. Is there a charity component to the Great North Run?

Yes, the Great North Run is a popular event for charity fundraising. Many participants choose to run for a cause close to their hearts and raise funds for various charities.

8. How many people participate in the Great North Run?

The Great North Run attracts around 57,000 participants each year, making it one of the largest half marathons in the world.

9. What is the route of the Great North Run?

The route of the Great North Run starts in Newcastle and takes runners across the iconic Tyne Bridge, through Gateshead, and finishes at the coast in South Shields.

10. Are there any famous participants in the Great North Run?

Over the years, the Great North Run has seen many famous faces participate, including Olympic champions, celebrities, and sports personalities.

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