With World Athletics Heritage plaque award
This world-renowned half marathon in Northeast England inspired Brendan Foster, 1976 Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist and world record breaker at 3000m and two miles.
On 28 June 1981, 12,264 people lined up in Newcastle, England, for the first Great North Run. In 2014, the race celebrated its millionth finisher and broke the Guinness World Record for the largest half marathon, 57,000 runners with 41,615 finishing.
Two years later, the race attracted entrants from 178 countries, the most ever represented in a single running event in history. In 2018, the race saw 43,656 runners cross the finish line.
At the top end of the race, the Great North Run annually presents one of the world’s great elite fields. Its winners have included numerous world half marathon record breakers, from Grete Waitz to Peres Jepchirchir and Michael Musyoki to Jacob Kiplimo.
The World Athletics Heritage Plaque is a location-based recognition awarded for ‘an outstanding contribution to the worldwide history and development of the sport of track and field athletics and out-of-stadia athletics disciplines such as cross country, mountain, road, trail and ultra-running, and race walking.’
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe commented: “I am delighted that World Athletics is recognising the Great North Run with the World Athletics Heritage Plaque for its contribution to the worldwide history and development of running.
“The Great North Run, founded by Sir Brendan Foster in 1981, quickly established itself as one of the world’s most significant running events. In 2014, it celebrated its millionth finisher! The race, raising millions for charities annually, cemented its international reputation by hosting the inaugural World Half Marathon Championships 1992.
“The Great North Run exemplifies excellence, attracting many of the world’s greatest runners, including Liz McColgan, Tegla Loroupe, Paula Radcliffe, Carlos Lopes, Haile Gebrselassie, and Mo Farah, to name but a very few.
“Congratulations to Brendan and his team for their continued outstanding work for our sport.”
Foster, Founder and President of The Great Run Company, said: “It is fantastic that World Athletics Heritage is recognizing the Great North Run for its contribution to mass participation in road running.
“This accolade has only been awarded to a handful of the truly great athletes, stadia, and events, and so we are profoundly honored that the Great North Run is now among this select group.
“It’s recognition of 40+ years of dedication to making it a truly world-class event that stands apart from all others. We have welcomed the sport’s greatest athletes alongside over 1.25m runners along the way. We captured the imagination of our runners and the Northeast region, who, year after year, join us to do something extraordinary.
“60,000 runners take part in the Great North Run each year, traveling from every UK postcode and across the globe, and our attention is set on delivering another spectacular event on September 8.
“With just a few days left to enter this year’s Great North Run ballot, we hope this prestigious recognition encourages more people to enter and be a part of Great North Run history.”