Today, 56,000 people will line up on the iconic Tyne Bridge in Newcastle to participate in the Great North Run, running the 13 mile course to South Shields on the coast.
The Great North Run is a huge event in the North East calendar and one of, if not the biggest mass participation sporting event in the UK. A race of this size attracts a huge variety of runners. There are the professionals (including this year our national treasure Sir Mo Farah), people entering for themselves, and the vast majority running to raise a money for numerous charities. The line up is always so colourful, with many runners donning all manner of fancy dress.
There is always a brilliant atmosphere around the Great North Run. Everybody is in high spirits no matter the weather (and this year is forecast to be one of the wettest for years), and everyone is really supportive of the runners. There is a huge build up – Great North Run fever has gripped the region for the past week and I’m sure there will be a really good turn out to cheer everyone on in spite of the weather.
Channel 4 has started a new series called Bouncers, and this is set in Newcastle. I’m all for drawing attention to my home city, but again this again just promotes the same stereotype of Newcastle as the home of binge drinking. It is lovely that the spotlight will be on the North East this weekend for a much more positive reason.
This weekend, the North East is also throwing open the doors of a host of attractions which are either not normally open to the public, or which usually charge for entry as part of the annual Heritage Open Days. It is a stroke of genius to combine this with the Great North Run weekend when tens of thousands of additional visitors descend on the region. For anyone in the North East this weekend, check out what is on here.
I have huge respect for anyone running and completing the Great North Run, and especially for those raising money for charity. Good luck to everyone taking part!