Chance to join Sir Brendan Foster in special Great North Run 40th birthday celebration

Forty lucky runners will be able to celebrate the Great North Run’s official 40th birthday alongside the event’s founder, Sir Brendan Foster.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 4:14 pm
Finishers at the Great North Run, the last time the event was staged in 2019.

Organisers of the event, and its online sibling the GNR81, have said anyone already signed up to the virtual event can take part.

Runners can put themselves forward or be nominated by friends and family for the chance to run the last stretch alongside the legendary athlete and broadcaster at the event’s iconic finish line in South Shields on June 28.

Those taking on GNR81 have pledged to complete the 13.1 mile distance, wherever they are in the world, either all in one over over separate sessions, any time between June 26 and 28.

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The virtual experience has been designed to give a taste of the atmosphere at the original staging of the groundbreaking half marathon.

Those taking part will hear first person stories of that incredible day in 1981, be treated to a classic Eighties playlist, and have a chance to see the original runners guide.

The birthday celebrations on June 28 begin the countdown to the main event, GNR40 - the 40th staging of the Great North Run, on Sunday 12 September.

Olympian and broadcaster Sir Brendan said: “It’s been great to see how many people have already signed up to our virtual birthday challenge, GNR81.

“It’s truly remarkable that we’re celebrating the 40th Great North Run this year and it’s always a privilege for me to hear about what the event means to our runners.

“I’m looking forward to hearing some stories about their experiences and sharing a few of my own.

Participants will be drawn at random to finish their GNR81 Challenge with Brendan at 8AM on Monday 28 June along The Leas at South Shields.

After finishing their last stretch, they will have the opportunity to catch up over a cup of tea.

If you have already entered GNR81 and would like to be a part of this exclusive experience, or if you would like to nominate someone you know is taking on the challenge this weekend, visit and register your interest by 9am on Friday 25 June.

There is still time to be a part of the free-to-enter GNR81 virtual challenge at