Where: Newcastle, North East England.
Size: World’s Largest Half Marathon – 56,000
Official race website here.
Completed Oct 2008
- Plan your journey back as it can get VERY busy post-race (biggest ½ marathon in world!)
- Write your name on your shirt for extra attention – even better – dress up in a goofy costume and they’ll love it!
- The biggest hill comes at around 10 miles
- But look out for the hill ½ mile before the end and save a bit of energy for it
- Don’t believe it when they say it’s downhill – let your legs decide the truth!
- Don’t get over excited on the final downhill mile as a sprint too early might tire you out and look a bit embarrassing
- Enjoy it – it’s a big one!
Here’s a great video of the route in 3 mins – complete with hills!
What’s the organisation and set up like?
The race is tough to get on to as it is so popular. Like other big races you can put your name into the ballot system or sign up through a charity.
Sometimes charities can’t fill all of their places so it’s worth trying last minute if you fancy the gamble. That way you may only have to raise a small amount. Some charities can ask you to raise upwards of £1,500 but this reviewer only had to pay for the ticket which was £40 which was pretty close to the ballot cost anyway.
Signing up through a charity is a good idea as they often take care of a lot of things and give you plenty of info and support in the lead up to the race.
On the day it is superbly organised with everything fairly busy and chaotic, as you’d expect but with plenty of marshals to help get people to the start line.
There are lots of aid stations and six drinks stations on the route. Bottled Aqua-Pura water is available at 3 miles, 5¾ miles, 8½ miles and 11½ miles. Lucozade Sport will be available at the start and finish and also at 4½ and 10 miles.
What’s the course like?
Starting in Newcastle, the course takes in the iconic Tyne Bridge, goes through Gateshead passing the athletics stadium and finishes in the coastal town of South Shields.
The start of the course takes you right through the centre of Newcastle and over the Tyne Bridge which is a fantastic way to start.
You then head through Gateshead and along to South Shields. It’s a fairly industrial course and the beginning and the end are probably the best bits but you finish right at the sea which is great.
How’s the atmosphere?
It is the biggest half marathon in the world so it’s safe to say it’s brilliant!
Right from the beginning there is such a buzz in the air and everyone chats to everyone before crossing the start line. There is no doubt that the atmosphere is second to none.
This is sort of race where even if you are running alone, you’ll never get lonely!
The crowd are incredible almost the entire way along the route and lift the spirits of struggling runners.There isn’t a point where you’re on your own so there’s always someone to cheer you on which is definitely.
How difficult is the Great North Run?
It’s one of the easiest half marathons in the country with little to no incline. As you can see from the gradient chart from the website, the biggest uphill section is only about 20 meters.
Although the map doesn’t really show it, the hardest part of the race is probably at about mile 10 to mile 11.5 as it is a steady slog.
The weather can make this race tough though with rain and high winds common.
What is there to do après race?
There’s a big hustle and bustle in South Shields when you get there and lots of publicity tents and activities going on.
Having said that it all ends quite quickly and things are packed up sharpish. If you head back to Newcastle on the Metro you’re sure to find a bit of banter for the 25 minute journey!
My Race Diary
By Elinor Bishop (fun runner)
Time: 2hrs 25mins
It was my first big race and I had a bit of an injury so not the time I’d hoped for but I finished which I was pleased with!