The Great North Run is one big annual party. GETTY IMAGES

The World Athletics Heritage Award, created by World Athletics President Lord Sebastian Coe, recognises "an outstanding contribution to the global history and development of the sport". The announcement comes with just a few days left to enter the Great North Run ballot, the organisation informed.

Sir Brendan Foster, founder and chairman of The Great Run Company, said: "It is fantastic that the Great North Run is being recognised by World Athletics Heritage for its contribution to mass participation road running. This award is only given to truly great athletes, stadia and events, and so we are deeply honoured that the Great North Run is now part of this select group." 

"It is recognition of over 40 years of dedication to creating a truly world class event that stands out from the rest.  Along the way we have welcomed the sport's greatest athletes alongside over 1.25 million runners (in total in history). We have captured the imagination of our runners and the North East region, who join us year after year to do something extraordinary," he added. 

"With 60,000 runners from every postcode in the UK and around the world taking part in the Great North Run each year, our focus is on delivering another spectacular event on 8 September. With just a few days left to enter this year's Great North Run ballot, we hope this prestigious recognition will encourage more people to enter and be a part of the history of the Great North Run," said Foster. 

Sebastian Coe, President of World Athletics, said: "I am delighted that World Athletics is recognising the Great North Run with the World Athletics Heritage Plaque for its contribution to the global history and development of running." 

"Founded in 1981 by Sir Brendan Foster, the Great North Run quickly established itself as one of the world's greatest running events. In 2014 it celebrated its one millionth finisher! The race raises millions for charity each year and cemented its international reputation by hosting the inaugural World Half Marathon Championships in 1992," said the Briton. 

"The Great North Run is an example of excellence and attracts many of the world's greatest runners including Liz McColgan, Tegla Loroupe, Paula Radcliffe, Carlos Lopes, Haile Gebrselassie, and Mo Farah, to name but a very few. Congratulations to Brendan and his team for their continued outstanding work on behalf of our sport," he concluded. 

Chris Turner, Director of the Heritage Department and the Museum of World Athletics (MOWA), commented: "I am delighted to confirm the award of the World Athletics Heritage Plaque to the Great North Run. This honour recognises the outstanding contribution the Great North Run has made to the history and development of international elite and popular road running since its inception in 1981.

The elite men's race in 2023, with the retired Mo Farah in the group. GETTY IMAGES
The elite men's race in 2023, with the retired Mo Farah in the group. GETTY IMAGES

The Great Run series:

As the UK's original series of running events, the Great Run organisers know a thing or two about motivation. Over the past four decades, they have recognised that it doesn't matter why people run or how far they go - the one thing that all runners have in common is that moment of triumph when they cross the finish line. 

Starting with the very first Great North Run in 1981, our events have always been a celebration of what makes our locations great. The Great Run Series now attracts 200,000 participants each year. The event programme of events stretches across the UK from Glasgow to Portsmouth and includes a full range of distances from 5k through to the half marathon and ultra marathon.

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World Athletics Heritage: 

The creation of the World Athletics Plaque was announced by the President of World Athletics Sebastian Coe, at a World Athletics Heritage Night in Monaco in December 2018. The plaque is a recognition that highlights, celebrates and connects iconic and historic athletics competitions, careers, achievements, cities, venues, landmarks, and culture around the world.