'Guarantee' Great North Run will return to South Shields in 2022 after 'huge disappointment' half marathon will not finish in South Tyneside in 2021
Council chiefs are hopeful South Tyneside will not lose out completely after the bitter news South Shields is losing the Great North Run finishing line for 2021 as part of covid contingencies.
South Tyneside Council leader Tracey Dixon said the news was a huge blow to the borough, but she has had reassurances the race will return in 2022, and hopes businesses in the borough will still benefit to some degree from race weekend this year.
Cllr Dixon said the event was much-loved by not only the people of South Tyneside, but the hundreds of thousands of participants and spectators from all over the UK and beyond, and while it was a major disappointment, the decision had been made on grounds of public safety.
"From a South Tyneside perspective, this is the home of the Great North Run finishing line and it is a huge disappointment for us,” she said.
"The council understands the decision has been difficult for the Great North Run organisers – it hasn’t been easy for them to make, and it hasn’t been taken lightly.
"From the region’s perspective, it’s really important for the event to go ahead.”
Cllr Dixon said ensuring the event went ahead was important for charities, and if it did not, it could mean losing millions.
She said the council had been working with Great North Run organisers and other parties to try and find a resolution, but unfortunately no alternative had been possible
However, the council leader said he had pushed for – and gained – reassurances from Great North Run organisers that the event would be returning to South Shields in 2022.
The race finish moving to Newcastle will be bad news for businesses in South Tyneside, with Great North Run weekend usually providing a massive boost to bars, restaurants, cafes, hotels, B&Bs, chip shops and ice cream parlours among others.
But Cllr Dixon, who has spent her life working in the hospitality industry, said she hopes businesses in the borough will still benefit.
"Not everybody will be able to stay in Newcastle and hopefully people will still come and stay in the real jewel that is South Tyneside.”
A spokesperson for South Tyneside Council said: “There will be many runners and visitors who will share our disappointment that the Great Run company have taken the decision to change the route in 2021.
"After months of self-sacrifice it is sadly a regrettable necessity, and another sacrifice that must be made.
They added: “The Great North Run raises huge amounts of money for important causes based across the country and its important that those charities are able to benefit from the race going ahead.
We are always extremely proud to host the spectacular finish of the Great North Run and look forward to welcoming it back in 2022 when safe to do so.”