News08 Feb 2024

Great North Run recognised with World Athletics Heritage Plaque


The Great North Run

The history of the annual Great North Run (1981) has been recognised with the award of the World Athletics Heritage Plaque (category - Competition).

This world-renowned half marathon in the Northeast of England was the inspiration of 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 different countries, the most countries ever represented in a single running event in history. In 2018, the race saw a record 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 of 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 largest running events. In 2014 it celebrated its millionth finisher! The race which annually raises millions for charities cemented its international reputation by hosting the inaugural World Half Marathon Championships in 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, 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 the Great North Run is being recognised by World Athletics Heritage for its contribution to mass participation road running.

“This accolade has only been awarded to a handful of the truly great athletes, stadia and events, and so we are profoundly honoured that the Great North Run is now among this select group.

“It’s recognition of 40+ years dedication to making it a truly world class event that stands apart from all others. Along the way we have welcomed the sport’s greatest athletes alongside over 1.25m runners. We captured the imagination of our runners and the Northeast region, who year on year join us to do something extraordinary.

“60,000 runners take part in the Great North Run each year, travelling 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.”

World Athletics Heritage