Tyne & Wear

Coronavirus: Great North Run cancelled in 40th year

Great North run 2019 Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The 2019 event raised an estimated £21m for charities, mainly in the North East

The Great North Run has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

More than 55,000 runners were due to take part in the half-marathon on 13 September, in what would have been its 40th year.

Organisers said they had not taken the decision lightly and had tried to find a way to hold the run - from Newcastle to South Shields - while observing social distancing.

Runners are eligible for refunds or can transfer their entry to next year.

The Junior and Mini Great North Run and the Great North 5km, which usually take place on the Saturday before the Great North Run, have also been cancelled.

Brendan Foster, the race's founder, described it as "devastating".

He said: "This year, our 40th was set to be the biggest ever, we had 60,000 entries and it would have been Britain's biggest ever mass-participation event.

"It's a very sad day for us and we're very disappointed, but everyone understands why it's not to be."

Colin Burgin-Plews, who has raised thousands of pounds for charity in the past by running in a pink dress, was one of those due to take part.

In a tweet, he said he was "gutted" but totally understood the reason behind the decision.

Paul Foster, chief executive of The Great Run Company, said: "We haven't taken the decision lightly.

"Over the past few months we worked hard to try and find a way to stage the Great North Run while observing social distancing rules, and most importantly, not impacting on our local NHS.

"However, as things stand, and even as the situation improves, it's not going to be possible to meet these goals with any certainty, and so we have concluded that the best course of action is to cancel."

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