As expected and hoped for by some the GNR has been cancelled due to covid 19 therefore we continue to look back at the early years in particular 1983 and 84. As before the article is taken from the magazine issued in 1991 by ‘Diet Coke Great North Run’. By 1983 the fame of the GNR was starting to spread internationally and more oversees competitors were entering ensuring top class fields of athletes pounding the roads between Newcastle and Shields. 1983 saw the first overseas winner in Carlos Lopez of Portugal recording 1.02.46, 2 seconds slower than Mike McLeod’s winning time and then course record set the year before, Ray Smedley took second with Tommy Persson {Lars} of Sweden third The top 10 included some very good British Athletes including Calum Bark of Sunderland Harriers 9th in 1.07.22.

More than 20,000 take part in Great North Run.
By any standards it was a pretty strong contingent which headed the 21,000+ runners at the start of the Thorn EMI Heating Great North Run on June 19th
The North-East was being treated to its first really hot day of the summer but at four miles, and despite the heat, nobody appeared to take drink within the small bunch that was now pulling well clear. Within another half mile Carlos Lopez decided to assert himself and picked up the pace noticeably. The only one to chase was Perttie Tiainen who lasted through to five and a half miles before being forced to let go. It was not until the last 200m that Lopez suddenly realised that there was ‘something on’ and sprinted to the finish. Too late – the course record survived by a mere two seconds.
1 Carlos Lopez (Por) 1.02.46 2. R Smedley {GB) 1.04.34 3. T Persson (SWE} 1.05.07
4 M Grafton 1.05.29 5 P Tiainen (FIN) 1.06.10 6. J Graham 1.06.10.
7 B Cain 1.06.38. 8. B Leddicoat 1.06.49. 9. C Bark. (Sund) 1.07.22.
10. M Hurd 1.07.23.
1 J Barleycorn 1.16.39. 2. M Hurst 1.19.07. 3 K. Goldhawk 1.21.52

This year proved to be a good one for Sunderland Harriers with 2 runners in the top ten, Graham Smith in third closely followed by Calum Bark in fourth, his second top ten finish in two years. Nearly 25000 runners took part, Graham Smith received an instamatic camera for third place, times have changed.

Great North Run, The Early Years. 1983/84.

Almost 25,000 complete this year’s race.
In 1984 the Great North Run became appropriately dubbed the Great Norse Run after Norway’s international marathon duo Oyvind Dahl and Grete Waitz captured the men’s and women’s titles in the fourth running of the half marathon from Newcastle to South Shield on June 17th.
Dahl vainly tried to cut loose on several occasions from fellow Scandinavian Pertti Tiainen only outsprinting him in the final 300 m. Waitz had a runaway victory. But perhaps the most revealing statistic was her official placing – 19th out of 25,000. Of equal significance she crossed the line at the same time as Tynedales Nick Speed, one of the North East top road runners.
1. O.Dahl (NOR) 1.04.36 2. P. Tiainen (FIN) 1.04.41. 3. G. Smith. (SUN) 1.06.44.
4 C.Bark. (SUN) 1.07.07 5. J. Correa. (COL) 1.07.16. 6. K Johnson. 1.07.17. 7. M Humble. 1.07.20. 8 S. Irvine. 1.07.45 9. A. Daley. 1.07.52. 10. D. Robson. 1.08.07
1 G. Waitz (NOR). 1.10.27 2. M. Hurst. 1.16.48. 3. L. Irvine. 1.17.20.
Grete Waitz completed a lot of her training on a treadmill in her kitchen due to the Norwegian weather, her time was over 6 minutes faster than last years winner. This was M.Hurst 3rd second place in a row. On a footnote Calum Bark went on to win the 1987 Belfast Marathon, you can see a fleeting glance of him at the finish in this clip, interesting for its social aspect of the times in Northern Ireland. you may have to copy this link into your browser, only lasts 1.5 minutes