Is the Great North Run ACTUALLY great?

I was a spectator at the Great North Run 9 years ago, and at the time (whilst off my face on £2 netto wine with all the other young whippersnappers) I remember thinking, “why would ANYONE want to participate in this?”

Nonetheless, the GNR has been on my bucket list ever since I started running, and I was SO excited to get a place in this year’s ballot. However, as strongly hinted in the title of this post, following on from Sunday I have mixed feelings about the GNR.

The 3 main issues I experienced were as follows:

  1. Starting Pens

I arrived at my allocated start pen with plenty of time – however, the pen was full and therefore blocked off. I was directed to the next pen down, which was also full, and the next, which was also full… I’m still a little perplexed about this. It meant that initially I could not run with my pacer of choice, as he was approximately 86 pens in front of me (a slight exaggeration as always.) Somehow I did manage to catch up with him, but let me tell you this was not an easy task!

  1. The Course

Prior to partaking in the GNR, I read multiple reviews describing the course as ‘really varied.’ Sorry (not sorry) to be rude, but I’m presuming that these bloggers have been paid to say that…

96% of the course is really uninspiring – there, I said it. Essentially, it was one straight road, up until the sea front at the very end of the race. I understand that the course is set out this way in order to accommodate the sheer volume of runners, and in general this works very well. However, I can’t pretend that I’m not disappointed by how dull the course was.

  1. Post-race mayhem

I was completely aware that the GNR was going to be incredibly crowded; with 57,000 runners and 172782342* spectators, that goes without saying! However, I did not expect to queue for 3 hours (this is actually not an exaggeration) to travel from the event village back to the car.

The fact that the race had a very late start (10:40am) added to the general mayhem; by the time we got back to the car it was too late to drive back to London so we had to stop off overnight.

That being said, the atmosphere really was FANTASTIC; there is something very special about being part of the world’s biggest half marathon. The locals were great, the pacers were great, the event village was great, the red arrows were great etc.

Would I do the GNR again? Yes, absolutely. Do I think the GNR is great? Based on my 2018 GNR experience, no I do not – HOWEVER, I think it has the potential to be great.

What are your views on the Great North Run? Please do let me know!

*Obviously I made this number up. Just a little FYI


  1. I recon it was oversubscribed compared to the last 3 years that I’ve ran it, seemed rammed everywhere. Could be the great summer we’ve experienced upping the numbers to breaking point a dunno . I’m used to dodging in & out of people but this year so many people walking did u notice? It’s like they wanna tick it off but don’t wanna put in the miles . Having said all that I absolutely love the race but my tip would be to arrive extra early like 7am! Sorry to hear about the 3 hour delay that’s not on . We’ve competed in the best half in the world so nothing can dampen the feeling for me & the monies raised must run into 100s of thousands which as u know is so amazing for the trusts . I carnt see it getting any better tbh last year was very busy but this year my geez it was unreal never seen it come to a standstill at the 8 mike mark .


    1. Yes, I did notice all the walkers – I actually thought it was quite dangerous!
      That is very good advice, thanks. I arrived at about half 9 which I thought left me plenty of time, but I was so wrong!
      Honestly I loved it 🙂 I think it just wasn’t what I expected – but I would definitely be up for the GNR again next year!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love GNR, being from the North East myself. I do agree with you, though that it’s not really GREAT. Whilst it encourages non-runners to take up the sport, invites people from all over the place to a little town in the north east of England, it’s become really oversubscribed, over priced and over hyped. You’re essentially paying £50 to run through an industrial estate and dodge thousands of people!

    I think people should start paying to do other local races. The Blaydon Race started back when the GNR started, it’s only half the price and half the distance, but the money goes to charity, and it supports a local club. Not only that you get a sandwich, bag of crisps and a beer at the end which is way more than you can say about GNR!

    Really good to see someone be honest about GNR!


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