With the one millionth finisher due to cross the line at this Sunday’s event, Sport England is awarding £400,000 of National Lottery funding to the Great North Run and Great North Run Culture to support their campaign to get one million new runners by 2020.
The Bupa Great North Run is the first mass participation event to attract one million runners. From just over 12,000 runners at the very first staging in 1981, the event has now grown to a record 56,000 accepted entrants from over 122,000 applicants in 2013.
The new partnership will support the Great North Run Million Opening Ceremony and a year-long programme of events and activities to celebrate the millionth finish of the Bupa Great North Run, the success story of mass participation running, and the development of one million runners through sport, culture and participation.
Sport England Chief Executive, Jennie Price, said: “Getting the millionth person across the finishing line is a fantastic achievement and I congratulate both the organisers of the Great North Run and all of the people who have participated so far on their success. This event is a great example of the different motives people have for running - from getting fitter, to raising money for charity to taking on a personal challenge in an iconic setting. I am delighted to be working in partnership with the Great North Run to encourage even more people to run regularly."
The Bupa Great North Run is the first event in the world to be officially recognised by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) to celebrate one million finishers.
Brendan Foster, founder of the Bupa Great North Run, said: “We’re really pleased to be working in partnership with Sport England to get more people running regularly. When we started the event 22 years ago we could only dream of the millionth runner crossing the finish line. Now we have achieved this momentous milestone, we look forward to working with our new partners to see many more people achieve their ambitions through running.”
The funding from Sport England will support the Trust to develop a national campaign to target a range of different audiences, including women, ethnic groups, young people and disabled people. Working with a range of different partners across each of the groups, the campaign will aim to break down the barriers that prevent them from taking part in running.
An interactive portal will also be developed that allows users to create and share information online as well create their own or group competitions, allowing them the train and compete with people all across the country.
The learnings and best practice from the campaign will be shared with other mass participation event organisers and organisations in the sector.
There are over 2 million people running every week, 825,000 more than in 2005. Sport England is committed to helping people and communities across the country develop a lifelong sporting habit and is investing over £1 billion in organisations and projects to achieve this.