Watch timelapse footage of thousands of runners setting off in 2021 Great North Run

By James Robinson

Tens of thousands of runners have taken part in this year's Great North Run after the iconic race took an enforced break last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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.

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

Our photographer Iain Buist captured this stunning time lapse footage of runners heading down the Central Motorway after starting the race on the Great North Road to the soundtrack of Mark Knopfler's Local Hero.

Participants face staggered start times this year to improve Covid safety, but the sight of all the runners getting under way is still hugely impressive.

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.

You can follow all the latest updates for today's run in our live blog here.

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