American Galen Rupp And Olympic Marathon Bronze Medalist Bashir Abdi will Lead Field For The Great North Run Half-Marathon
After having its anniversary celebrations scuppered by the pandemic last year, the Great North Run returns on September 12 with a redesigned course as many of the athletics stars of 2021 meet over the 13.1-mile distance.
For the first time since 2013 there will be a men’s winner other than Mo Farah. The multiple global track gold medallist won the Great North Run from 2014-2019 and the 2020 race was called off. But the new champion could still have strong links to Farah.
The women’s race also sees top runners from the track and roads collide. Hellen Obiri, the world 5000m champion from Kenya, faces Molly Seidel, the American marathon runner who won a surprise bronze medal at the Olympics.
British hopes, meanwhile, are led by Eilish McColgan, who is making her debut at the distance after a fine track season, plus Charlotte Purdue ahead of racing at the Virgin Money London Marathon on October 3.
The athletes will be following in famous footsteps as the event first took place in June 1981. The first man home that day was local runner Mike McLeod and the England footballer Kevin Keegan effectively became the first celebrity runner when he took part wearing a top that incorporated the colours of Newcastle and Sunderland.
“I think there is an extra significance to this year,” says race founder Brendan Foster. “It will demonstrate that the country’s getting back to normal and that ordinary people are getting back to doing what they want to do.”
The course starts and finishes in the centre of Newcastle, crossing the Tyne Bridge twice, with live coverage on BBC.
In the men’s race much will depend on how well Abdi and Rupp have recovered from the Olympic marathon five weeks ago.
Abdi clocked 2:10:00 that day in hot conditions but has a best of 2:04:49 from Tokyo last year. The 32-year-old also has run 60:42 on the old Great North Run course that finished in South Shields.
Rupp won Olympic 10,000m silver behind Farah in 2012 and marathon bronze in Rio in 2016 before finishing eighth in the marathon in Tokyo last month. His half-marathon best is 59:47.
posted Thursday September 9th
by Jason Henderson