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A sea ofn colour emotion and courage; 54,000 in Great North Run.

THE world's biggest and best half marathon once again saw thousands of runners pounding the streets of Tyneside.

Cheers rang out as determined joggers and elite athletes from around the globe arrived in Newcastle for the 31st Bupa Great North Run.

Some 54,000 braved the race yesterday, raising money for hundreds of charities and bringing a carnival atmosphere to the city.

Lines of spectators cheered the participants every step of the way, from the city centre to South Shields.

Newly-crowned 5,000m world champion Mo Farah started the race, with the Red Arrows providing a scintillating display of colour over the Tyne Bridge.

Kenyan Martin Mathathi set a new course record in the elite men's race, while Lucy Kabuu, also from Kenya, won the women's event on a perfect day for running.

Run Geordie Run hero Mark Allison was pounding the tarmac again, fresh from completing his gruelling 100-day, 3,100-mile run across America last month.

Running to raise funds for St Benedict's Hospice and the Children's Foundation, Mark, 40, was competing for the ninth time.

The run attracted brightly-clothed fundraisers from around Tyneside, each with their own story of inspiration.

A banana-dressed airline pilot took part just hours after landing from Majorca.

Alex Wiggins, of Great Park, Gosforth, touched down in Newcastle at 6am yesterday but was ready to bust his lungs for his father, Gordon, who died from leukaemia in June.

"I wanted to do something a bit extra so I could raise as much money as possible," said Alex, 30.

"It's for the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research charity's Banana Army."

Best friends Cheryl Jones and Janine Brown, from South Shields, ran dressed as a pair of clowns.

They were taking part to raise funds for South Shields charity Cancer Connections in memory of their friend Steven Bruce, who died of cancer in January, aged 40.

Cheryl, a 30-year-old local government worker, said: "This is just one of a million things us and other friends of Steven are doing to raise pounds 100,000 for Cancer Connections in his name."

Janine, 30, who works for the Royal Bank Scotland said: "It's not about the running for us and we haven't done much training.

"It's just about raising money in memory of Steven."

Dressed as Hong Kong Phooey, Steven Nicholson, 34, ran for Hearing Dogs for Deaf People.

In a pounds 30 suit bought from eBay, the runner from Forest Hall, North Tyneside, was taking part for the 8th time.

He said: "I am here to support rescue dogs who are trained to help deaf people.

"They are a lifeline to those in need and I have raised pounds 260 so far."

Among the celebrities taking part was Calum Best, son of Northern Ireland football legend George Best. The 30-year-old ran in a Newcastle United shirt to support Sarah's Hope Foundation and had been encouraged to take part by friend, the former Miss Newcastle Sophie Graydon.

Dr Emma Egging, widow of Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging who was killed during a Red Arrows display last month, was alongside gold medallist Farah on the start line.

She ran the course wearing a red number four in memory of her husband who flew 'Red Four'.

"We used to run together, this is the first half marathon I've ran without him," she said.

"I've had support all along the way and it's been fantastic."

Runners also did their bit for the Chronicle's Sunshine Fund.

Around 70 runners ran on behalf of the fund which raises cash to improve the lives of disabled children and their families in the North East.

Supporters of the fund clapped and cheered as the runners, who had all raised at least pounds 345, crossed the line.

Fund director Carol Pattison, 53, of Wallsend, said: "It really is the most fabulous event of the North East."

* Reporting team: Emma Lowe, Will Lyon, Lucy Roue, Michael Owens, Lauren Riley, Dan Robinson and Jonathon Taylor


THE JOG ON THE TYNE Above and below, runners, including some in fancy dress, taking part in the Great North Run HE WON'T BE FORGOTTEN The Red Arrows over the Tyne Bridge; right, Flight Lieutenant Jon Eggings' widow, Emma, looks on OFF WE GO Thousands of runners at the start of the Great North Run in Newcastle begin the gruelling 13-mile jog to South Shields
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 19, 2011
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