Great North Run founder, Sir Brendan Foster
The Great Run Company, organisers of the Great North Run, have announced a change to the iconic half marathon’s course for the first time in 40 years. They say the changes have been made to ensure the resilience of the event in 2021 as the nation emerges from the pandemic.
Instead of the traditional South Shields finish line, the race will now start and end in Newcastle with runners crossing the Tyne Bridge twice. The route will go into the City Centre on the return leg, before finishing on the Great North Road. A finishers’ village will be built on the Town Moor.
In addition to the route change, rather than the traditional mass start, runners will be allocated specific time slots, with the final participants setting off several hours after the first.
These changes to the timetable and the route hope to ensure runners are able to socially distance both at the event and on the region’s transport network before and after the race.
Chief Executive Paul Foster says they have been working in close consultation council partners, local Public Health Directors, transport providers, local NHS and other stakeholders to make the event possible.
The changes aren't permanent though, with the Great Run Company hoping to return to South Shields in 2022.
Organisers say they have committed to the changes now, to ensure the event can go ahead in September.
Race Director Nigel Gough says the race will still be "a celebration of everything that's great about the North East"
The 40th Great North Run will take place on Sunday 12 September.