From Glyndebourne to Glastonbury - A social calendar for the 21st century
BUPA Great North Run
15 September, 2013
Run over 13.1 miles, this is the world's largest half marathon, attracting over 52,000 participants. It is the largest sporting participation event in Britain.
The run was devised by Olympic medallist Brendan Foster, who was inspired by the Round the Bays race in New Zealand.
The first race took place in 1981, with some 12,000 runners participating. From the outset, the race attracted world-class marathon athletes. In 2002 Kenya's Paul Kosgei completed the race in a record-breaking 59 minutes 58 seconds. A separate woman's race was launched in 2003; the winner was Paula Radcliffe, and her record of 1 hour, 5 minutes and 40 seconds still stands.
But the run is about ordinary people, who come from all over the world to participate, and raise over £8 million for a wide range of charities. The weekend of the Great North Run is a peak time for tourism in the north-east, and there is a carnival atmosphere as supporters line the route, which starts in Newcastle, passes through Gateshead, and ends in South Shields.