Tyne & Wear

Great North Run 2019: What to look out for at UK's biggest half-marathon

The streets of Tyneside will come alive with the sights and sounds of thousands of runners taking part in the 2019 Great North Run this weekend.

About 57,000 people are registered for the annual half-marathon between Newcastle and South Shields.

It is the UK's biggest running event.

Many will have taken on the challenge before, but if it is your first time what are the must-see moments to look out for along the route?

The start

Image copyright NNP
Image caption Runners as far as you can see at the start in Newcastle

When you see the start line on Newcastle's central motorway you really get an idea of how big the event is - it's an explosion of colour, with every shade of running vest and some amazing fancy dress, combined with the buzz of excitement and nervousness.

If you are seeing it for the first time remember to stop for a moment to take it all in before your last-minute preparations - including the all important last trip to the loo (remember, the queues will be long).

Expect to see thousands of items of clothing and foil vests which people have been using to keep warm tossed to the side as the start draws close. The good news is the discarded clothes are donated to charity.

When the start gun goes, do not be surprised by how long it takes to cross the start line - there are a lot of you there. But it does not matter as your time only starts when you cross the mat and your running chip is triggered.

This year Lionesses stars Steph Houghton and Jill Scott and England and Durham cricketer Mark Wood will be doing the honour of starting the event.

Image copyright North News / Great Run
Image caption High-fiving the starters as they cross the line is part of the Great North Run tradition

Oggy, oggy, oggy through the tunnels

After about a mile, runners on both carriageways of the course will run through tunnels on the central motorway.

You will hear the sounds of thousands of running feet echoing against the walls.

And you will find yourself joining in with the chants of oggy, oggy, oggy, which are amplified in the confined space.

Crossing the Tyne Bridge

Image copyright North News / Great Run
Image caption A river of runners crossing the Tyne Bridge

This really is a fantastic moment - the combination of running across the famous Grade II* listed structure with crowds packed tightly on either side cheering you on may well give you goosebumps.

Usually it's the moment the Red Arrows fly over, leaving a trail of red, white and blue behind them. Sadly this year they will not be there because of commitments in the USA.

But that should not dampen the atmosphere too much - it's definitely a moment to savour.

The crowds along the route

Image copyright The Twins/ Great Run
Image caption Crowds line pretty much the whole route

Expect an incredibly warm welcome from the Tyneside crowds. There are very few stretches along the route which are not lined with people and you will feel their goodwill as they urge you on.

Lots of them will offer you sweets and other bits of food aimed at boosting your flagging energy levels. It is a lovely tradition.

Bands are also placed at strategic points along the route and they will help to lift your spirits.

And at mile 11 you will see an Elvis tribute act performing all his hits.

The first sight of the sea

Image copyright The Twins/ Great Run
Image caption After a short, steep descent the runners turn into the finishing straight

At about 12 miles you will see the sea off South Shields for the first time and know you are nearly there.

There is a short, sharp hill down before you turn left into the finishing straight.

You are nearly at the finish line but it is still a mile and it can be a tough one so time your finishing burst of speed well.

The crowds along the final mile are packed several deep all along the road and should give you the final shouts of encouragement to get you home.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Many runners raise money for charity

Lastly, if your friends and family cannot make it along to support you, they can watch live coverage of the 2019 Great North Run on Sunday 9 September from 09:30 BST on BBC One and the BBC Tyne & Wear website.

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