The BUPA Great North Run is the world's most popular half marathon road running event. Participants run between Newcastle upon Tyne and South Shields in England. The run was devised by former Olympic 10,000 m bronze medallist and BBC Sport commentator Brendan Foster. Foster was inspired after running in the Round the Bays Race in New Zealand in 1979.
The first ever Great North Run was staged on the 28 June 1981, when 12,000 runners participated. By 2003, the number of participants had risen to 47,000. For the first year it was advertised as a local fun run; twenty years on it has become one of the biggest running events in the world, and the biggest in the UK. Only the London Marathon (Britain's second biggest road race every year since 1981) comes close to attracting 'similar' numbers of athletes each year.
In recent years, a Great North Mile has also been held.
In the 2004 Great North Mile race on Saturday 25 September, double Olympic Gold medalist Kelly Holmes made her first appearance in Britain since returning from the 2004 Summer Olympics. Holmes also fired the gun to start the main event on Sunday 26 September, and waved and shook hands with many of the 50,000 starters.
In addition the The 'Tunnel 2K' international warm up race, on the day before the Great North run sees wheelchair athletes competing over a 2km course ran through the Tyne Tunnel between North and South Shields.
52,000 ran this year.
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