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Double milestone for run.

ONE of the region's biggest events is to get even bigger this year, achieving a world first in the process.

The Bupa Great North Run has increased its entry limit to a record 52,000 participants for 2008, and will this year celebrate its millionth competitor since its creation in 1981.

Former Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Brendan Foster, founder and chairman of the Great North Run who hails from the region, said: "It is believed that this is the first sporting event in the world to have achieved this milestone and we are very proud to be the first to reach a million entrants.

"It is beyond my wildest dreams that the Great North Run could have achieved such an incredible level of popularity over recent years and being on the point of this milestone gives me the opportunity to thank the many thousands of staff and volunteers who have helped deliver such a high level of professionalism."

The first Great North Run took place on June 28 almost 27 years ago, and 12,770 runners from all over the country took to the streets of Tyneside.

The inaugural race was won by local athletic legend and Elswick Harrier Mike McLeod and the event has grown to become the world's biggest half-marathon, beginning on the city's Central Motorway and ending 13.1 miles away at the South Shields coast.

The news comes as an added birthday present for Foster, who turned 60 last week and was awarded a CBE for services to sport in the Queen's New Year Honours List. He had already been made an MBE.

He went on: "This year's event will take place on Sunday, October 5, and will be the 28th staging of what has become one of the world's most prestigious running events.

"Last year a record 90,000 applications were received for the event and this year it is expected that the number will exceed 100,000 for the first time."

The online general entry ballot for the 2008 event will open today at 10am.

Just visit www.greatrun.org, and the millionth entrant will be revealed when the ballot for successful places is drawn early next month.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Jan 17, 2008
Words:385
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