ALL eyes may have been on Sir Mo Farah as he created Great North Run history by becoming the first male runner to win the race for five years in succession.

But each of the tens of thousands of people following in his wake had their own personal triumphs too – some having overcome adversity, others trying to better their records. All were enjoying the spirit of the day, while raising money for countless good causes.

A capacity field took to the streets of South Tyneside, for the 13.1-mile run from Newcastle to South Shields, with the the 38th staging of the Great North Run forming the centrepiece of a packed weekend of athletics.

The weekend also featured the Great North City Games, incorporating a new elite mile race in Stockton, and the Junior Mini Great North Run, which is the biggest children’s run in the UK with more than 8,500 entrants.

After the Bishop of York The Right Reverend John Sentamu blessed the track, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Ingrid Kristiansen and Rosa Mota fired the starting gun, along with Kathrine Switzer, who defied convention to become the first woman ever to race in a marathon when she competed in Boston in 1967.

The wheelchair races were followed by the elite races and a solid phalanx of runners. 

The Red Arrows, which have become synonymous with the event, put on a spectacular show as the runners pounded across the Tyne Bridge.
Running clubs from throughout the region were represented, while many others turned out in a colourful array of fancy dress.

There were pantomime animals of all descriptions, a Rubic cube, a giant telephone, Roman legionnaires, a team of The Incredibles and a Jesus lookalike with his cross. 

Great North Run legend Colin Bergin-Plews, known as Pink Dress Man, donned an even more elaborate frock this year, featuring selfies taken with runners over the years. 

Celebrities taking part included singer-songwriter Olly Murs racing alongside his sister, Fay.

Also participating were Emmerdale’s Chelsea Halfpenny, comedian Ross Noble and River Cottage chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

In the ranks were the mums of South Shields couple Chloe Rutherford, 17, and Liam Curry, 19, who were among 22 people were killed in the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena last May.

Lisa Rutherford and Caroline Curry ran for The Together Forever Trust to support talented youngsters in sports and art. 

Bishop Auckland’s Scarlett Moffatt, of Gogglebox and Saturday Night Takeaway fame, pulled out of the race at the last minute. The star had pledged to raise money for the Angel

Among the local heroes running the course was Alex Oliver, who was taking time off from his role as head coach at Brandon Boxing Club to complete his fifth Great North Run.

Alex has built the County Durham club up from humble beginnings to almost 150 members, offering 20 classes a week to the community, and is known widely for its inclusivity.

An event spokesperson said: “There were over 43,600 finishers, making it the biggest-ever Simplyhealth Great North Run.”

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