Changes required to keep runners safe will make this year’s Great North Run like no other in its amazing 40-year history.
Those changes include a major route change with the new finish line located on the Great North Road in Newcastle. This means runners will make their way through Newcastle’s city centre on their return leg and cross the Tyne Bridge twice, while the vibrant finisher’s village will be on the city’s Town Moor.
Always a very special day for the Charity’s supporters, the event’s cancellation last year was a necessary safety measure but disappointing for runners and the many charities which benefit from it.
For Sophie Roberts, who last entered the race ten years ago, the pandemic has reinforced the importance of running for her mental and physical health and she is looking forward to the route changes as a new way to experience the run.
The 41-year-old from Tynemouth works at Newcastle University and has two children Florrie, aged three and a half, and Albie aged six.
Very sadly, Sophie’s Mum, Hilary Claire, died from breast cancer in 2007. Sophie has run the Great North Run three times to thank the charities who offered support then and she ran the first time to fulfil a promise to her Mum. This year she is running for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, part of Newcastle Hospitals Charity.
Sophie says: “I’ve always watched the Great North Run on the television, even during the years I lived away from the North East. I was watching it with Mum when she was really poorly and I told her I’d run in her memory the next year, which I did.
“It’s emotional on the small screen but so much more so in reality. You look around and you see all the other runners who are doing something special to support causes that mean so much to them and it spurs you on.
“And it’s absolutely amazing how much of a buzz you get from the support along the route. The crowd is so supportive and encouraging. I feel quite emotional now even thinking about it. Crossing the Tyne Bridge, seeing the Red Arrows and just running alongside lots of other people who are feeling the same kind of emotions is absolutely incredible.
“Because of Covid things will be different run this year but in some ways that will make it all the more special as this Great North Run will be unique. The changes are important to keep us all safe and that’s the most important thing. I can’t wait for the big day. It will be a treat to cross the Tyne Bridge twice and then, hopefully, we can all get back to normal next year.
“I think this last year has made a lot of people think about things differently. I haven’t done the run for quite a few years but felt the time was right to get out there again. And fundraising for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has really given me the motivation I needed.
“Sir Bobby began his charity the year after Mum died and this is my way of doing something positive to help other people facing cancer now and in the future. It’s important to me because of what Mum went through and the idea of going through all that during this pandemic is just unthinkable. It’s difficult to imagine how hard that must have been for people facing cancer now.”
Sir Bobby Robson launched his Foundation in 2008 as a fund within the Newcastle Hospitals Charity. It has gone on to raise over £15m to help find more effective ways to detect and treat cancer, working within the NHS and in partnership with other leading charities and organisations.
The charity funds a range of cutting-edge cancer treatment and innovative cancer support services that directly benefit patients from across the North East and Cumbria and which play a significant role in the international fight against the disease.
Lady Elsie says: “We know there are lots of difficult decisions being taken this year to ensure everyone is being kept safe.
“The route change makes this year’s Great North Run unique and it will no doubt be a very special experience, especially going over the Tyne Bridge twice.
“It’s always an emotional day and, while, our runners will miss the wonderful finish at South Shields, I have no doubt it will be a fantastic occasion ending the run in Newcastle. And, as always, my family will still be on hand in our Charity Village tent to welcome our supporters home and give them a chance to rest their tired legs.
“We’re very grateful to everyone involved for helping keep the Great North Run safe during these extraordinary times we’re looking forward to the run getting back to normal next year.”
The only way now available to take part in the Great North Run 2021 is via a charity place and limited places are available to run for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.Sign up for Great North Run Place