September 27, 2021

Great North Run: A guide to the famous half-marathon

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Great North Run
The Great North Run is set to feature 57,000 entrants
Where: Newcastle Date: Sunday, 12 September, from 09:00 BST
Coverage: Follow on BBC Two 09:00-10:00 BST and BBC One 10:00-13:30 BST and uninterrupted on the BBC Sport website and app

Sunday’s Great North Run in Newcastle is the 40th edition of the famous half marathon.

The race will be live on BBC Two and BBC One or you can watch the uninterrupted stream on the BBC Sport website and app from 09:00 BST.

We’ve put together three things for you to look out for in Sunday’s race.

40th anniversary on re-designed route

After plans for the 40th anniversary celebration were dashed by the pandemic last year, the race will take place on a redesigned route, starting and ending in Newcastle.

This year’s run will not finish in South Shields as usual and instead runners will cross the Tyne Bridge twice, after Covid concerns prompted a shake-up and a different course for the first time in 40 years.

“It won’t be the iconic course but it will be the iconic race and it will be even more important now after what everyone has been through,” said Paula Radcliffe, who won the Great North Run twice and will be part of the BBC’s commentary team on Sunday.

The race, which has been in existence since 1981, will feature a host of famous faces, including mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, who is running for the Rob Burrow Foundation and will wear the number one bib.

The race will be started by four NHS heroes who worked throughout the pandemic.

No more Mo – who will take his place?

For the first time since 2013 there will be a men’s winner other than Olympic champion Mo Farah, who won the race in six consecutive years from 2014, recording his best time in 2019 with 59 minutes and seven seconds.

Farah also failed to qualify for the Olympics in Tokyo and BBC commentator and former middle-distance runner Steve Cram said “he will be back but it is a shame he’s not ready for this race”.

Among the entries for the men’s race is Farah’s training partner and Olympic marathon bronze medallist Belgium’s Bashir Abdi, as well as American Galen Rupp, who has also trained alongside Farah.

“Mo will be missed but he had to move on and I think he is the type of athlete to think if he can’t be there winning it then his training partner can do it for him,” said Radcliffe.

Cram has tipped Great Britain’s Jake Smith to give Farah’s former training partners “a run for their money” after winning the Cheshire Elite Marathon in April despite only starting the event as a pacemaker, along with Marc Scott, who came a close runner-up to Farah in the Antrim Coast Half Marathon last year.

McColgan makes half-marathon debut

British middle-distance runner Eilish McColgan will make her half marathon debut, having predominantly raced in the 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase events.

McColgan’s mother, Liz, won the Great North Run three times in the 1990s and is the second fastest female half marathon runner in British history behind Radcliffe.

“It will be really interesting to see what she can do, she will want to match her mum’s record and there’s no reason to think that she can’t do that – it is a big ask but she is capable,” said Radcliffe.

The last seven winners of the women’s race have been Kenyan and Hellen Obiri, the world 5,000m champion, will enter as one of the favourites along with the USA’s Olympic bronze medallist Molly Seidel, who McColgan set the pace for at the London marathon.

Cram added: “if they don’t go silly pace Eilish might just join in with Obiri and Seidel so that could be interesting.”

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