The 40th Great North Run was due to take place on 13 September this year but, unsurprisingly, was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The iconic half marathon based in North East England is a staple for many runners, attracting more athletes than any other UK race, and drawing in famous faces like Brigid Kosgei and Mo Farah over the years. Even though participants have been able to roll their places over to next year’s event, and despite the completely understandable circumstances behind the cancellation, a year without the Great North Run will undoubtably be a disappointment to runners and spectators alike.
So, this legendary race is going virtual. Working with app provider viRace, organisers have created a unique running experience that uses sounds from the event to take the runner on a Great North Run journey wherever they are in the world. The app will highlight popular course features, provide distance updates and even play motivational messages through runners’ headphones.
The best part? You can take part in the Virtual Great North Run for free regardless of whether you had a 2020 race place before the cancellation. Anybody can get involved, with charity fundraising encouraged.
Paul Foster, chief executive of The Great Run Company, said: “Over £25m is raised for good causes every year at the Great North Run and our charity village usually hosts 100 charities at the finish line in South Shields.
“Right now fundraising is more important than ever before. Many runners have seen their fundraising efforts halted in recent months, so we encourage them join the Virtual Great North Run in the hope that we can still raise a significant fundraising total for these worthy causes.”
Runners can take part in the Great North Run Solo virtual event, which takes them through the traditional half marathon training period, or just the Virtual Great North Run, which will see them running 13.1 miles on 13 September, as 60,000 people would have done at the year’s race.
20,000 have already started the Great North Run Solo challenge, raising almost £250,000 for the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal. Want to get involved in the virtual race? Click here.