Great North Run founder Sir Brendan Foster celebrates recognition of event's global success

Great North Run founder Sir Brendan Foster has celebrated the race entering athletics history with some of those who have made the event a global success story.

The Great Run company has celebrated the 43rd anniversary of the first race by unveiling a World Athletics Heritage Plaque to recognise the event’s success in both attracting top level athletes to Tyneside but also encouraging hundreds of thousands of ordinary people to take up running. Sir Brendan was joined at the anniversary celebrations by fellow former athlete Mike McLeod, winner of the first Great North Run, as well as current runners and other supporters of the event.

He said: “It was a big honour for us when the World Athletics Federation decided to give us the heritage plaque which recognises significant contribution the Great North Run has made over its history. You cannot get any higher than that. And when you look at who else is in that club - Emil Zatopek, Roger Bannister, Jesse Owens - they’re members of the club. And events like the Boston Marathon, the New York Marathon and the Penn Relays in America, the oldest track and field event in history.

“To be part of the history of the sport is incredible. There’s only football and athletics which are truly worldwide sports and to be part of the heritage of this sport is wonderful.

“I’ll also say that The Journal is a part of the fabric of this event, right from the start. If we hadn’t had the support we had from The Journal, it would have been an event but it wouldn’t have been the event it is now.

Special guests of todays plaque unveiling - stories that have shaped the history of Great North Run
Special guests of todays plaque unveiling - stories that have shaped the history of Great North Run -Credit:handout

“The region has never had an event which has been of worldwide significance but this is. That’s down to a local newspaper, local TV and the 1.3million people who’ve done it, the 70-odd who’ve done all of them. We’ll take the award and we’re very happy to be in the club but it’s been won by all those people.”

The Great North Run is now the centrepiece of a series of half marathons and other runs staged around the UK under the Great Run name. This year’s race will take place on September 8 and is likely to help raise more than £25m for charity.

The Great North 10K event in Newcastle takes place next weekend.