The Great North Run is on track for another world first

The Great North Run became the first race in the world to record its millionth finisher in race history two years ago and now the race has set itself an even loftier goal: to become the first event in history on 11 September to have a participant from every country in the world taking part.

To put that into context, this means the Great Run Company is aiming to recruit at least one runner born in every member state of the United Nations – a total of 193 countries – to take part in the long-standing event which was first staged back in 1981 and has been a mainstay on the calendar ever since.

And the Great North Run - which has been given a five-star endorsement by European Athletics - is on track to achieve this goal. At the time of today’s launch, runners from 125 countries from Cuba to Kazakhstan to East Timor have registered to take part and the organisers are hopeful they can reach 193 countries with some help from the British running fraternity.

“We’re inviting the people of the United Kingdom to help us find those runners which will make it a spectacular event,” said Great Run chief executive, Mark Hollinshead, who unveiled the plan at a press conference alongside Great North Run founder Brendan Foster.

“This year, we’ll hopefully celebrate the fact that there’s someone born in every country on the planet in one place, on one day, in the same event which will make it a world first.”

To mark the all-encompassing theme of this year’s event, the 13.1-mile route from Newcastle to South Shields will carry flags from all 193 UN member states.

Along with events such as the Great North City Games which is set to attract another all-star cast, there will also be a food festival staged the day before with dishes from around the world to sample.

All applicants will be requested to supply proof of their nationality before being accepted into the event, and a dedicated email address – - has been set up to handle enquiries from anyone who could be eligible.

To find out more, visit or contact on social media using #GNRWorldRun.

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