Since it began in 1981, the Great North Run has developed far beyond its humble beginnings and is now firmly established as not only an annual fixture in the region, but part of the cultural life of the North East. It is widely recognised as the worlds' biggest half marathon and this year attracted over 49,000 entries with every postcode in the UK and over thirty countries represented.

       The Run is over a fast course from Newcastle to South Shields. Even before the start line, the runners stretch back over half a mile along the central motorway (several years ago a runner dropped out before he'd crossed the line, having jogged the half mile before saying he felt too tired to go any further!). Over half a million people have taken part in the previous nineteen races with 178 runners having completed every one.

       In addition to the Run, every year over 4,000 young people run the ever popular three mile BUPA Junior Great North Run, starting and finishing at Gateshead International Stadium.

       The Millennium Arts Festival, a collaborative project between NOVA International. Northern Arts and Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, brings together North East based artists with some of the large army of spectators who watch the run every year along the 13 mile (and 192 yards) course.

NOVA International, October 2000