The elevation of the 2021 Great North Run - Is the new route harder, hillier or steeper than the normal route?

For the first time in its history the Great North Run will take a different route this year.

Rather than starting in Newcastle and finishing at South Shields, runners will start and finish in Newcastle with a route that crossed the iconic Tyne Bridge twice.

Organisers have made the changes due to covid and say that this route will avoid thousands of people using public transport to travel back from the coast to the city.

But will the route be harder and steeper than in previous years?

Is the Great North Run 2021 route hillier?

Does the 2021 Great North Run Route have more hills than the usual route? In short, yes.

We’ve plotted the routes and calculated that there is an additional 154 ft of ascent uphill and only an extra 20ft of downhill descent on the 2021 route compared to the usual Great North Run route.

However there is only marginal difference in what percentage of the route is uphill (37.34% vs 36.48%), which means, when it’s uphill it is steep!

A full breakdown of the routes is below:

Great North Run 2021 route Great North Run usual route
Uphill (% of route)37.34%36.48%
Downhill (% of route)40.77%44.67%
Flat (% of route)21.89%18.85%
Total ascent682 ft528 ft
Total descent 712 ft692 ft

Uphill miles of the Great North Run route 2021

Regular runners of the Great North Run will know there are usually two main uphill slogs to tackle on race day:

- The Felling Bypass climb, which is tougher than it looks, climbing 120 ft over a mile and half from mile four.

- The Prince Edward Road climb at mile 11 which covers 75 ft in a mile and a half, but feels like much more!

The main uphill slogs in the Great North Run route 2021 include;

- The usual Felling Bypass climb, with an extra uphill bump on the return as the route loops back from White Mare Pool roundabout.

- A mile and a half climb of 115 ft from outside Gateshead Stadium which then dips quickly down to the Tyne Bridge.

- A super-steep climb from the Tyne bridge to the 55 degrees north roundabout which climbs almost 100 ft in 300 metres. Ouch.

The finale

The usual Great North Run route includes a lovely flat finish of just under a mile along the Coast Road.

However the last two miles of the 2021 are pretty much all uphill.

Despite this the finale of the route will be spectacular, taking in the city centre along the historic Grey Street up to the Monument before weaving past the Civic Centre to the Town Moor.

And after last year’s cancellation most runners will just be elated to be taking part in the world’s largest half marathon, running alongside thousands of people who are raising money for amazing causes after a tough 18 months.