This September the Great North Run is due to celebrate its 40th birthday, while we all wait to see if it will happen, I took time to look back at some of the earlier years. In 1991 the ‘Diet Coke Great North Run’ issued a magazine inside of which there was an article detailing the first ten years of the run and I thought it may be of interest, especially as some of our Harriers are mentioned. I cannot find any details of the author but attribute it to the sponsor Diet Coke.
Tremendous victory for Mike McLeod in Britain’s biggest ever race
The headline says it all: the ‘Great North Run’ sponsored by Thorn Gas Heating on June 28th was always destined to be a big success given the formidable promotional team combination of Brendan Forster and the BBC ‘Look North’ .
By the time Mike McLeod reached the centre of Newcastle’s famous Tyne bridge the race for first was over. Mike was 20m up and pulling away Oyvind Dahl gave chase for half a mile before acknowledging the futility of the exercise, at which point he settled for a race long battle with Mike Kearns. McLeod agreed after the race that probably he did run too quickly for the first half of the route but stated that the spectators were so amazing that it was impossible to throttle back.
1 M. McLeod (Els)1.03.23 2. O. Dahl (NOR) 1.04.34 3. M Kearns (Tip) 1.04.39
4 N Brawn (Inv) 1.06.03 5 J. Wigley. (Inv) 1.06.03 6. S. Irvine (Gates) 1.06.16.
7 E Toogood (Nor} 1.06.27. 8. N Gates. (Bris) 1.07.15. 9. G Forster. (Sund) 1.07.25.
10. S Cram. (J&H) 1.07.28.
1 K Goldhawk (RAF) 1.17.36. 3. M Lockley. (Manx) 1.20.36. 3 M Chambers (Blay) 1.26.24

The first run dominated by GB club runners, especially local clubs with Sunderland Harrier Glenn Forster in 9th place 3 seconds ahead of Steve Cram of Jarrow and Hebburn.

Quite Simply-the greatest race in Britain.
The run had caught the imagination of the public and the entry had increased from approx. 13,000 to 20,000. The final conversion of the Tyneside public and the North East in general to the concept of community involvement in ‘running for fun’ must surely have occurred at about noon on Sunday 27th on the coast road at South Shields.
Mike McLeod had finished about 30 minutes earlier to record a very impressive win ahead of rapidly improving Kevin Forster in damp and drizzling conditions. Thousands of spectators at the finish were cheering and applauding the runners as 20,000 competitors headed for the finish of the Great North Run sponsored by Thorn EMI Gas Heating. It was at this point that the heavens really opened. The rain was torrential, bouncing off the road. Any normal person would scatter for cover in the face of such a deluge, but not one person moved. It was quite a site as the hordes of runners, stretching at least over 7 miles, splashed towards the finish and the enormous crowds, absolutely soaked to the skin, continued to shout, cheer, and offer assistance. Everyone seemed to revel in the occasion, almost unaware of the elements.
McLeod chased by Kevin Forster, delayed his move until after 12 miles and pulled 14sec clear in the last three quarters of a mile.
1. M. McLeod (Els) 1.02.44 2. K. Forster (Gat) 1.02.58. 3. I. Gilmour. 1.03.11. 4 R Smedley 1.04.29 5. D. Robson. 1.05.23. 6. A Gibson. 1.06.02. 7. B Leddicoat. 1.06.09. 8 N. Black 1.06.35 9. D Kelly. 1.06.38. 10. D. Gibbon. 1.06.49
1 M. Lockley. 1.19.24 2. M. Hurst. 1.20.48. 3. S Glass. 1.21.55.
Another year with northern athletes performing well, McCleod claiming his second title and Kevin Forster a close second.

Great North Run, The Early Years..

1983 and 84 to follow.