(09-Sep) -- While Great Britain mourns the death of Queen Elizabeth II, many U.K. sporting events have been cancelled this weekend, including the entire Premiere League schedule. However, the 41st edition of the Great North Run, one of Europe's largest road races, will go forward on Sunday. Last year, approximately 36,000 runners completed the half-marathon course from Newcastle to South Shields.
PHOTO: The Tyne Bridge in Newcastle which is crossed in the second mile of the annual Great North Run (photo courtesy of the Great North Run)
"Sunday's Great North Run will go ahead as planned," read a statement from the event organizers this morning. "The event has traditionally been a celebration of the extraordinary achievements of ordinary people, (and) this year it will be an opportunity for us to come together and express our condolences, while celebrating the life of our extraordinary Queen."
Like the TCS London Marathon (which is organized by a different group) the Great North Run plays an important role in charity fundraising. Organizers estimate that £25 million (USD 29 million) will be raised from this year's race, "a fitting tribute to the Queen, who lived her life in the service of our country and its people," organizers said.
However, there will be changes to the schedule of events this weekend because the Great North Run is actually a multi-race festival. The Great North 5-K, which was to host the British Athletics 5-kilometer road running championships, will not be held on Saturday as planned. Also, the Junior and Mini Great North Runs, also scheduled for Saturday, have been postponed. A new date has not yet been set for those events.
Sir Brendan Foster, the 1976 Olympic 10,000m bronze medalist who founded the Great North Run in 1981, said that the execution of Sunday's race would reflect the serious and somber mood of the nation.
"In common with people all over the country and all over the world we heard the news of the Queen's death with enormous sadness," Foster said through a statement. He continued: "We have considered the staging of the Great North Run on Sunday, and are confident that we can continue in a way that will remain respectful of the Queen and the Royal Family and mindful of the mood of intense sadness which is being felt across the country. There will be an appropriate tribute made and whilst we want runners to enjoy the day we will be encouraging everyone to be aware of the very sad and very special circumstances in which the event will be taking place."
Some of the world's greatest runners have won the Great North Run, including Britain's Mo Farah (six times, from 2014 - 2019), Ethiopia's Haile Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele (2010 and 2013, respectively), Kenya's Mary Keitany (2014, 2015 and 2017), Britain's Paula Radcliffe (2000 and 2003), and Ireland's Sonia O'Sullivan (1998 and 2002). The course records for the slightly downhill course are 58:56 by Kenya's Martin Irungu Mathathi in 2011, and 1:04:28 by Kenya's Brigid Kosgei in 2019. In 2014 Tracey Cramond was honored as the race's one millionth finisher.