Organisers confirm half marathon showpiece will proceed on Sunday, with tributes planned to The Queen
Organisers of the Great North Run have confirmed that the half marathon showpiece will go ahead this coming Sunday (September 11), albeit with changes being made to the planned weekend of running in the North East of England.
With alterations being made to the sporting calendar, in light of the passing of Her Majesty The Queen, there had been doubts as to whether or not the event would proceed. The Great North 5k, due to incorporate the inaugural UK Athletics 5km Championships and set to take place this evening (September 9), has been cancelled, while this year’s Mini and Junior Great North Run has been postponed.
However, Sunday’s 13.1-mile run – which will see 60,000 people tackle the famous course which travels from Newcastle city centre to South Shields – will still continue. Runners have been told to expect some differences, though.
A statement from event organisers The Great Run Company read: “The event has traditionally been a celebration of the extraordinary achievements of ordinary people. This year it will be an opportunity for us to come together and express our condolences, while celebrating the life of our extraordinary Queen.
“The thousands of runners taking part are expected to raise an estimated £25 million in much-needed charitable donations, a fitting tribute to The Queen, who lived her life in the service of our country and its people.
“Elements of the runner and spectator experience will be more subdued out of respect to the Royal Family.”
Event founder Sir Brendan Foster added: “We have considered the staging of the Great North Run on Sunday, and are confident that we can continue in a way that will remain respectful of the Queen and the Royal Family and mindful of the mood of intense sadness which is being felt across the country.
“There will be an appropriate tribute made and, whilst we want runners to enjoy the day, we will be encouraging everyone to be aware of the very sad and very special circumstances in which the event will be taking place.
“We would encourage runners to communicate their respect for the Queen in any way they feel appropriate and look forward to welcoming runners from all over the UK and the world to the North East this weekend.
“We will endeavour to ensure the event runs smoothly but we will do so ever mindful that the nation has lost someone whose death is a defining moment for all of us, and who will be in our hearts and minds not just today and tomorrow, but long into the future.”
Big names head the elite fields
The elite fields of athletes which have been assembled for this year’s Great North Run are of a very high quality and look set to produce a memorable day of racing.
Jacob Kiplimo has already stood out on British shores this summer, having won Commonwealth gold at 5000m and 10,000m, and the Ugandan is also a tremendous road runner. He is the half-marathon world record-holder with a best time of 57:31. While the nature of the Great North Run route means it is not eligible for records, Martin Mathathi’s course record of 58:56 could well come under threat.
While an injury means Kiplimo’s compatriot Joshua Cheptegei, the 5km and 10km world record-holder, is no longer competing, there will still be some formidable opposition to take on.
The great Kenenisa Bekele has enjoyed Great North Run success before – winning in 2013 – and is preparing for another assault on the London marathon this autumn, while his fellow Ethiopian and Olympic 10,000m champion Selemon Barega makes what will be an intriguing debut over the half marathon distance.
Leading the British charge will be world 5000m and 10,000m finalist Marc Scott, who is defending his title. A group of finely matched Japanese athletes, led by Kazuya Nishiyama with a personal best of 60:41, should also feature prominently.
Kenyan clash between Obiri and Jepchirhcir
Hellen Obiri thrived on her Great North run debut last year, when she defeated Eilish McColgan (who will be performing the role of official starter this weekend), and the Kenyan two-time world 5000m champion is back for more ahead of making her marathon debut in New York later this autumn.
She will be coming up against compatriot Peres Jepchirchir, the Olympic marathon champion, two-time world half marathon champion and also the women-only half marathon world record-holder (65:16). Obiri’s personal best (64:51) is just 14 seconds faster than Jepchirchir’s, so all the ingredients are there for a heavyweight clash. The Ethiopian duo of Hiwot Gebrekidan and former Olympic 5000m and 10,000m champion Almaz Ayana further enhance the field.
There looks set to be fine contest among the British contenders in the field, too, with Jess Piasecki (67:20) fastest in the field, followed by last year’s third placer Charlotte Purdue (68:23). European Indoor 3000m champion Amy Eloise Markovc is making her half marathon debut.
In the wheelchair races, multiple Paralympic and world champion Hannah Cockroft is due to make her half marathon debut and will be lining up against former 100m and 200m world champion Sammi Kinghorn, while last year’s men’s champion Simon Lawson returns and is joined by British 400m champion Nathan Maguire.
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