No sooner had the millionth runner Tracey Crammond crossed the finish line then Great North Run race organisers were looking to attract one million new runners by 2020. The classic British running event is being funded to the tune of £400,000 by Sport England. The money supports 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.
Darlington-based Tracey, running for the Butterwick Hospice in memory of her mum Lynn, was the real heroine of the 2014 Great North Run although Mo Farah winning the men's event and Mary Keitany, fastest woman in a course record time, grabbed the headlines. Runners like Tracey highlight the success of the event Brendan Foster launched in 1981
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 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 all those 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 development of 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.
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.