A sensational sprint finish between two of the greatest athletes in athletics history was just one of the highlights of a superb weekend of human spirit and endeavour at the Bupa Great North Run, in the North East of England.
The clash between Mo Farah and Kenenisa Bekele, the only two men in history to have achieved the ‘double double’ of World and Olympic titles at 5,000 and 10,000 metres, was won by the Ethiopian, Bekele. Another legend of athletics, Haile Gebrselassie, took third place.
London Marathon winner Priscah Jeptoo beat the pre-race favourites Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar in the women’s race. Meanwhile, David Weir and Shelly Woods achieved a British double in the wheelchair events.
However, the true heroes of the day were the record-breaking 41,000 people who crossed the finish line in South Shields having completed their half marathon in windy and sometimes wet conditions. Between them they raised an astonishing figure of approximately £28 million for hundreds of different good causes. One of the slowest, but most popular finishers was Dunkirk war veteran ‘Jarra’ Jim Purcell, who at the age of 92, took 4 hours and 3 minutes to complete the race, having been cheered every step of the way by the crowds lining the route.
Famous faces who took part included former track athlete Iwan Thomas, Spice Girl Mel C, DJ Jo Wiley and Natasha Hamilton, the Atomic Kitten singer. Former footballer Robbie Savage also made his Bupa Great North Run debut.
The Red Arrows performed their traditional flypast over a sea of runners on the Tyne Bridge, a sight that has become one of the most iconic images in sport.
The weekend also featured the Junior and Mini Great North Run, with 6,000 youngsters taking part in the Britain’s biggest running event for kids, the Bupa Great North 5k and the Great North CityGames. The NewcastleGateshead Quayside provided a magnificent backdrop for world-class athletics on the specially constructed temporary track.
The 2014 Bupa Great North Run, which will take place on Sunday 7 September, will see the millionth finisher of the event; the first major running event to achieve such a feat. The reminder service is open at www.greatrun.org/north