Great North Runners want to 'be back in South Shields next year' after finish line moved to Newcastle for 2021

Athletes in South Shields have spoken of their sadness that this year’s Great North Run was not coming to the town as they headed for the start line in Newcastle.

Organisers changed from the traditional route with runners crossing the Tyne Bridge twice, rather than the famous finish on the South Tyneside coast.

This change was one of many to aid social distancing and help with the Covid safe measures.

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And while the race is expected to revert to its traditional course in 2022, for many 2021 was just not the same.

Lisa and Shaun Smith considered not running and want the event back in South Shields.

This included married couple Sarah and Tony Capraro from Hull, who were running their seventh GNR.

Tony said: “I’m disappointed really. It’s like starting again for us, because we haven’t done the new route. Missing out on the seafront finish is a big thing and I don’t some people will do it if it isn’t back here.

"It’s got to come back here.”

Sarah added: “We’re happy to be doing it, but we’re sorry for the people of South Shields and the little businesses.”

Tony and Sarah Capraro from Hull paid tribute to Mo Farah before setting off for the starting line in Newcastle.

Married couple Shaun and Lisa Smith are members of South Shields Harriers. The local couple considered not running, but didn’t want to jeopardise their place in next year’s race.

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Lisa told the Gazette: “It’s more hassle. We used to get the Metro to Newcastle then run home. I feel like I’m going through the motions. I should be on the starting line about now.”

Shaun added: “I think it’s terrible. It’s really disappointing there’s no iconic seafront finish. Basically, now you’ve got a motorway run. I won’t re-join if it’s not coming back next year. It seems a bit flat.”

Tracey Hearne from Bicester in Oxfordshire, supported by husband Rob, wants to do the 'proper Great North Run' next year.
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Tracey Hearne, from Oxfordshire, was running her first GNR and had stayed in South Shields with husband Rob for four days.

She said: “I was really looking forward to the seafront finish and I’d booked it because of that and decided to stay in South Shields.

"When we found out about the new route it was a bit of a disappointment. I want to do the proper Great North Run next year.”

Chris Hudson, from Somerset, and friend Anthony Hooper also spoke of their disappointment at missing out on the “iconic” seafront finish.

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From left: Laura 'Batgirl' Whitworth, Carla Howes, Karen Liddle and Lindsey 'Wonder Woman' Collings off to the Great North Run.

Running with them was Dan Shaw, from Lincolnshire, who added: “It’s a tad disappointing, because the support you get from the people of South Shields is fantastic. It spurs you on to the line along those last four miles.

“I understand why, it’s unfortunate but it’s good to have something as opposed to nothing. I’m really hopeful they get it back to South Shields next year - especially seeing as my in-laws have a place near the finish line!”

Vicki Morrison from South Shields was celebrating her birthday by taking part in her second Great North Run.

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She said: “We understand because obviously we’ve had a massive pandemic. I just thought it would be nice to do the 40th.”

Vicki’s friend Wendi Slater, added: “We’re excited now that we’re doing it. We’re just haven’t trained enough, because we were expecting it to be cancelled.”

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Friends Vicki Morrison and Wendi Slater were running on Vicki's birthday.
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Chris Hudson and Anthony Hooper, both from Somerset, and Dan Shaw from Lincolnshire, were all disappointed there would be no seafront finish.