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Gallery 2 > Event Coverage > Bupa Great North Run 2008, Newcastle to South Shields
The Bupa Great North Run is the second largest half marathon in the world, taking place annually in North East England each September. Participants run between Newcastle upon Tyne and South Shields in the county of Tyne and Wear. The run was devised by former Olympic 10,000 m bronze medallist and BBC Sport commentator Brendan Foster along with local man William Rowe. William Rowe was himself an amateur long distance runner and well known in the community of South Shields. William was later awarded a CBE for services.
The first Great North Run was staged on 28 June 1981, when 12,000 runners participated. By 2011, the number of participants had risen to 54,000. For the first year it was advertised as a local fun run; nearly thirty years on it has become one of the biggest running events in the world, and the biggest in the UK. Only the Great Manchester Run (Europe's biggest 10km run and Britain's second biggest road race) and London Marathon (Britain's third biggest road race) come close to attracting similar numbers of athletes each year.
The 1992 edition of the race incorporated the 1st IAAF World Half Marathon Championships. Martin Mathathi holds the current men's course record with his run of 58:56 minutes in 2011. Paula Radcliffe's women's course record of 65:40 minutes, set in 2003, stood as the world record for the distance for four years.
The run was devised by former Olympic 10,000 m bronze medallist and BBC Sport commentator Brendan Foster and local South Shields William Rowe. Foster was inspired after running in the Round the Bays Race in New Zealand in 1979, and has built upon the Great North Run with a series of other Great Run road races.
The first Great North Run was staged on 28 June 1981, when 12,000 runners participated. By 2003, the number of participants had risen to 47,000. The 2011 event saw an announced field of 54,000. The number of finishers was 35,777 in 2007, the largest half marathon and the 13th largest running race that year. Note: The Göteborgsvarvet (Gothenburg Half Marathon) on 16 May 2009 had a total of 40,523 finishing runners and is since then the world's largest half-marathon.
Bupa was the title partner of the Great North Run from the early 1990s until 2014, one of Britain’s longest ever sports sponsorship agreements. In 2015 Morrisons announced their sponsorship of the Great Run series.