I think it’s fair to say that The Bupa Great North Run is a Geordie institution, for the last 33 years it has attracted thousands of people to the North East to fundraise for charities close to their hearts. The world famous route goes from just North of the city centre (not far from my house), across the iconic Tyne Bridge and all the way to the stunning coast line of South Shields!
It is now widely regarded as the greatest half marathon in the world and if you’ve ever taken part, cheered on the runners from the roadside or even watched it on TV, I’m sure you’ll agree! This year though, the Great North Run was even more special then usual because it was the first event of its kind to reach its one millionth finisher! The celebrate this landmark event, the NewcastleGateshead Quayside and the River Tyne were transformed into a huge outdoor arena for a spectacular star studded opening ceremony.
Tens of thousands of people descended on the Quayside last Thursday night, full of excitement and anticipation for a night like no other – including me and James! I have to admit though, we underestimated the number of people that would be attending the event and spent a little bit too long checking out some the Quayside’s new bars (blog post coming soon!) which meant we ended up with rather a poor vantage point behind a massive speaker! In fact this was about the best image I managed to capture…
Still looks pretty awesome though doesn’t it? The atmosphere was electric, many of the spectators were former runners, as tickets to this special event were available free to them through a ballot… and as Mark Knopfler played the famous song synonymous with Newcastle and the Great North Run, ‘Local Hero’ there must have been hairs standing up on the back of almost every neck!
The Dire Straits frontman was just one of the many performers taking part, there was also Sting, Jimmy Nail, Chase and Status and The Unthanks. As well as great music and impressive performances from local volunteers there was an emotional narration to the ceremony, flawlessly delivered in beautiful Geordie dialect by Tim Healy and Jill Halfpenny. Newcastle’s most famous sons, Ant n Dec, were also on hand to introduce dignitaries and athletes who all had a few words to say including the man who went on to win the race on Sunday, Mo Farah!
As my own photos didn’t turn out that well, I’ve borrowed these amazing images (below and feature image) from North News. I know I’m biased but you’ve got to admit… Geordieland has never looked better!
It’s hard to put in to the words how proud the whole occasion made me, it was enough to bring a tear to my eye! There were also a few tears shed on Sunday as I cheered on many of my friends taking part in the race. I’ve always loved the Great North Run but this special year has encouraged me more than any other to actually take part – so watch this space in 2015!
By Rachel Kershaw