First taking place in 1981, the Great North Run has been a proud part of Newcastle’s culture for many years. With tens of thousands of runners taking part each year, and plenty more spectators and supporters, each Autumn sees an influx of energy, inspiration, and achievement in one of the UK’s greatest cities. If you’re competing in the race, or perhaps supporting friends or family taking part, here is everything you need to know when planning your visit to Newcastle for the Great North Run.
History of the Great North Run
Olympic bronze medalist Brendan Foster originally came up with the idea for the Great North Run when visiting New Zealand, where he was inspired by running the ‘Round the Bays Race’. From this point of inspiration, the Great North Run was devised along with a number of ‘Great Run’ road races around the UK.
12,000 runners took part in the first Great North Run in 1981. That number has continued to grow ever since, with around 60,000 people now running each year. The average race time for the Great North Run is just over two hours, but the quickest time, set by Martin Mathathi in 2011, was just 58 minutes and
56 seconds – though it’s the taking part that counts! The Great North Run is one of the most exciting athletic events in the British calendar, offering thousands of runners the chance to run alongside accomplished athletes like Mo Farah and Paula Radcliffe.
Key Information about the Great North Run
Whether you’re taking part and need all the details or you’re interested in travelling to Newcastle to witness this year’s run, CrossCountry has all the key details you may need for visiting Newcastle for the Great North Run.
What is the Great North Run route?
The route begins in the heart of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, on the city’s central A167 motorway. From there, runners will run through Newcastle city centre, over the Tyne Bridge, and to Gateshead. Contestants then run through Gateshead towards South Tyneside, finally crossing the finishing line in South Shields. The course of the run spans thirteen miles in total, with elevation between around 50ft and 200ft.
How do you get to the Great North Run start line?
Given how many people flood into Newcastle, Gateshead, and the surrounding areas on race day, runners and spectators are encouraged to make use of public transport to reach the starting line (or your spot along the route, if you’re cheering runners on). Head for Haymarket metro and bus station in Newcastle, and from there a fifteen-minute walk will get you to the start line. Plus, the walk acts as a bit of a warm-up!
When is the Great North Run?
For the first nine years, the Great North Run was held in June. However, since 1990, it has always been held in Autumn – usually in September.
Planning Your Visit to Newcastle
With so much culture to enjoy, beautiful sights to see, and excellent places to eat and drink, it’s no wonder Newcastle is one of our favourite cities in the UK . If you need a little extra inspiration when planning your visit to Newcastle for the Great North Run, make sure to check out all of our blogs on Newcastle.
Where to eat in Newcastle
Whether you’re looking for a nice place to eat the night before the race or somewhere to refuel when the running is done, there are plenty of delightful cafes and restaurants in Newcastle. Pleased to Meet You is a fantastic bar in central Newcastle offering a delicious Sunday roast, which might be the perfect reward after a long run! If you’re looking for something quick to eat whilst spectating, there are plenty of Cooplands bakeries around the city – if you’re new to Newcastle, Cooplands is a must-visit for a sausage roll!
Where to stay in Newcastle
Because the Great North Run is such a celebrated event, runners travel from all across the UK – and some from across the world – to take part. If you’re travelling to join the fun, fear not – Newcastle is full of cosy and comfy hotel beds to rest up before and after the race. Hotel du Vin is situated just off the Quayside promenade, located conveniently close to the city centre. If you’re spectating, booking a room at the Hilton with a view of the Tyne Bridge is a great way to ensure a good view of the race!
Written by Julia