The North East’s most famous annual sporting event reaches a significant milestone in 2014 as the millionth finisher of the Great North Run crosses the finishing line on Sunday, September 7 and you can watch this historic moment live on the BBC.
Part of bumper weekend of athletics on Tyneside, which also includes the Great North CityGames on the Quayside in Newcastle-Gateshead, the 34th edition of the world biggest half-marathon will feature the biggest names in long-distance running, as well as thousands of charity runners all raising awareness for their chosen good causes.
The elite names in action include double world, Olympic and European champion Mo Farah, who leads a strong elite men’s field, while the women’s race is fiercely contested, with 2013 winner Tirunesh Dibaba defending her crown.
This year’s Great North Run is particularly special as the iconic race celebrates its millionth finisher, becoming the first running event in the world to reach this milestone.
One of the 57,000 runners, who will all be set off by honorary starter Lord Sebastian Coe, is set to cross the line at South Shields and claim a unique place in the race’s illustrious history.
As part of the celebration of the millionth finisher, a special ceremony will be held on the Quayside in Newcastle prior to Sunday’s race, which will feature performances by Sting, Mark Knopfler and Chase and Status.
The focus turns to the athletes and thousands of charity runners on Sunday as the 34th Great North Run sets off from Newcastle, with the now-familiar course taking in the iconic Tyne Bridge, going through Gateshead, passing the famous international athletics stadium and finishes in the coastal town of South Shields.
Britain’s Olympic and World Championship hero Mo Farah returns to the race for a second consecutive year, this time hoping to go one better than 2013 when he was narrowly beaten in a sprint finish by Kenenisa Bekele.
Farah needs to overcome an elite field that includes Uganda’s Stephen Kiprotich, the defending world and Olympic marathon champion, and will hope to banish the memories of a disappointing debut over the full marathon distance in London back in April.
In the women’s race, the field is led by Tirunesh Dibaba, who returns to defend her crown and she faces strong opposition in the form of Edna Kiplagat, the reigning world marathon champion, Tiki Gelana, the Olympic marathon champion, and Mary Keitany, the former half marathon world champion, while Gemma Steel, winner of last year’s Great Birmingham Run, leads the British challenge.
The wheelchair races are equally intriguing with Jade Jones, a bronze medallist at the Commonwealth Games and recent European Championships 5000m, lining up against fellow Briton Shelly Woods, a former winner of the Great North Run and silver medallist in the London 2012 Marathon.
In the absence of Paralympic legend David Weir, his Great Britain team-mate Simon Lawson will be hoping to provide a home winner in the men’s race.
Following the elite races, attention will rightly turn to the thousands of mass runners, with a record number taking to the start line this year.
The Great North Run is not only part of the cultural fabric of the North East, but has touched lives across the UK and around the world, with last year’s event seeing runners from over 40 different countries taking part.
Many choose to run to raise money for causes close to their hearts and in the last 30 years the event has helped runners raise millions of pounds for charities and worthy ventures.
BBC Sport will cover all the stories from the elite and charity across the course with its comprehensive coverage of the 2014 Bupa Great North Run live from Newcastle-Gateshead.
Jonathan Edwards presents a specially extended live BBC TV broadcast, starting on BBC One and BBC One HD at 9.30am on Sunday, September 7, which celebrates the millionth finisher milestone of the world’s biggest and most iconic half-marathon.
Commentary is led by Steve Cram, Andrew Cotter, Brendan Foster and former world marathon and half-marathon champion Paula Radcliffe, while live updates from out on the course come from Denise Lewis, Colin Jackson, Tina Daheley and Phil Jones.
Due to the BBC’s coverage of the Italian Grand Prix, the live Great North Run action continues on BBC Two at 12.00pm for a further two-and-a-half-hours, featuring highlights from a special opening ceremony held on the Quayside in Newcastle to mark the race’s millionth finisher, featuring performances by Sting, Mark Knopfler and Chase and Status.
A special 45-minute highlights show will round-up the day’s events on BBC Two at 6.00pm, while regular updates, reports, interviews and live streaming can be found on the BBC Sport website.
All BBC TV and BBC 5 radio coverage will be available to watch/listen online via the BBC Sport website and app, as well as via the BBC iPlayer for seven days following each day’s events.
Ahead of Sunday’s main event, BBC One will also be bringing athletics fans live coverage the Great North CityGames from Newcastle-Gateshead Quayside.
Firmly established as part of Great North Run weekend, the Great North CityGames takes place on a specially built 200m running track on the bank of the River Tyne.
In addition to a programme of flat and hurdles races, are pole vault and long jump competitions, and men’s and women’s mile races around the quayside.
This year sees a rarely run 500m flat race featuring a mixture of 400m and 800m runners, with Christine Ohuruogu facing stiff opposition from 400m hurdles European gold-medallist Eilidh Child, and 800m European silver-medallist Lynsey Sharp.
Britain’s World and Olympic T44 100m Champion Jonnie Peacock faces Richard Browne in the latest chapter of their growing rivalry, with Browne having beaten Peacock in the last two times they have met.
Andy Turner, who is bringing down the curtain on his career after competing in the 110m hurdles, faces a tough field including Olympic champion Aries Merritt, World Championships silver-medallist Ryan Wilson and Britain’s Will Sharman a silver-medallist at the recent European Championships, while the Women’s 100m hurdles sees European champion Tiffany Porter taking on Olympic and Commonwealth champion Sally Pearson.
Olympic Champion Greg Rutherford competes against fellow Brit Chris Tomlinson, and Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor, while the women’s pole vault is headlined by Olympic champion Jenn Suhr.
The men’s 150m sees two young British sprinters, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey and Richard Kilty, world 60m champion, take on Kim Collins and Commonwealth champion over 100m, Kemar Bailey-Cole.
The women’s 150m sees 200m Olympic champion Allyson Felix compete against three young Brits, including Jodie Williams, the 200m European Championships silver-medallist.
Finally, the men’s mile around the quayside includes world 1500m Champion Asbel Kiprop and the women’s race features four Brits, including European 1500m bronze-medallist Laura Weightman.
In what is one of the last major track and field athletics events of the season, Jonathan Edwards presents BBC One’s live coverage on Saturday, September 6, alongside Denise Lewis and Colin Jackson, with Phil Jones reporting from trackside and commentary from Steve Cram, Andrew Cotter and Paula Radcliffe.
Saturday 6th September
Great North CityGames 2014
LIVE: 2.30pm-4.05pm BBC One
Sunday 7th September
Great North Run 2014
LIVE: 9.30am-12.00pm BBC One / 12.00pm-2.30pm BBC Two
Highlights: 6.00pm-6.45pm BBC Two