Great North Run is 'about healing' after 'the most terrible 18 months' says North of Tyne mayor

By Katie Dickinson & Sam Volpe

North of Tyne Mayor Jamie Driscoll said the Great North Run is about "healing" from "the most terrible 18 months" as he crossed the finish line of the world's biggest half-marathon.

Mr Driscoll was one of an estimated 57,000 people taking part in Sunday's event as it returned following an enforced break last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking to ChronicleLive on the finish line, he said, "We have had the most terrible 18 months with Covid. For all the people limping and aching now, this is an event about healing - of our physical health, our mental health.

Read more: Go here for the latest Great North Run news, updates and information

"The strength of everyone here and all the support along the route cheering us on, that's the strength of the Geordie nation."

Mr Driscoll added: "About the experience, the most amazing thing is the people. At the start I was being introduced with [the Lord Mayor] Habib and he was talking about the diversity of our city.

"For example the wheelchair athletes, way faster than I could ever be! As we were going across into Gateshead and turning there was this guy coming up the hill in a wheelchair in the opposite direction to me.

"Absolutely everyone was clapping him. Then there were the incredible elite women - way, way faster than me. And of course all of the people of all shapes and sizes and ages, all of the people running in memory of someone or for charity - it was amazing."

Organisers estimated that around 57,000 people are running the half marathon today, the 40th iteration of the popular race.

For the first time in its history, the route of the race has changed - runners will no longer head to South Shields, but will instead start and finish in Newcastle, crossing the Tyne Bridge twice.

A number of famous faces are taking part this year, including Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham and Great British Bake Off star Michael Chakraverty.

However, this year is missing the familiar sight of six-time winner Sir Mo Farah, who confirmed he would not be taking part but took the time to wish participants good luck.

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