The Great North Run finally celebrates its 40th year with thousands of runners taking on course through city

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On Sunday, the Great North Run marked a momentous milestone as the world’s biggest half marathon finally celebrated its 40th staging.

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

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 in the world.

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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.

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“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  also paid tribute to the heroes of the pandemic. The Great North Thank You Campaign,  with support of proud partner HSBC,   featured 13 inspirational individuals in a large-scale visual installation along the route of the course.

Four of those heroes, local NHS Staff, were also 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, had the honour of officially setting runners on their way.

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