Everyone Should Enter The Free Great North Run 2020 Virtual Race

(Image credit: Unknown)

While lockdown might be starting to ease in the UK, no-one is expecting mass-participation running events to return to the calendar any time soon, and one of the biggest races to have been cancelled is the 40th edition of the Great North Run, which will next take place in 2021 instead of this September.

That’s a blow to the many runners who were successful in the 2020 ballot and were looking forward to the incredible atmosphere of the event. The Great North Run is one of the biggest half marathons in the world with over 50,000 participants and the people of South Shields come out in force, lining the route come rain or shine. However, the organisers are putting on a special virtual event to replace this year’s Great North Run.

This event will involve running a half marathon on the original race weekend – 12-13th September – and it’s free for anyone to enter. You’ll be able to sign up for the “Official” Virtual Great North Run from Monday 3rd August, but if you’re intending to do so then it’s a good idea to start training before then. Race weekend is just over ten weeks away, so why not check out our 10-week half marathon training plans – there’s one for beginners and another for intermediate runners shooting for a sub-1hr 45min time.

It’s hard to overemphasise how beneficial following a training plan can be, especially for new runners. The primary reason is that a good one (like ours, natch) progresses the distance you run each week gradually to minimise your chance of injury and also includes different types of run, which is key to improving your running.

More details about the event will be announced in the coming weeks but there will certainly be an element of fundraising involved, given that the organisers are trying to make up some of the £25 million that the event usually raises for charity.

If you’re looking for something to get involved with before the event weekend, there’s also the Great North Run Solo challenge. This started recently on 28th June (the date on which the first Great North Run was held in 1981), and continues until 13th September, when the 2020 race would have been held.

The challenge is to run 40 times during those 78 days, so you log a run for each year the event has existed. Those runs can be any length and at any pace. If you do it, you’ll get a special medal. It costs £10 to enter and all profits go to the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal. You can sign up for that event now – it makes for the perfect motivation to keep logging those training runs in the build-up to the Great North Run virtual event weekend.

Nick Harris-Fry
Senior writer

Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.