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Who cares if you can't catch Mo when run is so fun?

Michael Muncaster, Hannah Graham, Jonathon Manning, Kali Lindsay and Sean Seddon Reporters jnl.newsdesk@ncjmedia.co.uk THE Great North Run was awash with smiles, tears and stories of triumph after 57,000 people took part in the race yesterday.

Olympic gold medallist Sir Mo Farah stole the show as the 34-yearold celebrated winning his fourth consecutive race.

But the day was just as memorable for the tens of thousands of runners who also completed the gruelling 13.1-mile course.

From Newcastle to South Shields, thousands of spectators lined the streets to cheer on the runners, some of whom were in fancy dress.

The crowds erupted as Sir Mo made history by winning his fourth Great North Run title after edging out New Zealander Jake Robertson in a thrilling finish.

With one final effort, the Olympian produced a trademark sprint finish to win with a time of one hour and six seconds.

Sir Mo has now equalled the number of victories in the race by Kenyan Benson Masya, who won in 1991, 1992, 1994 and 1996.

Farah said: "That was really tough. I think it was a lack of training, really.

"With four miles to go I was hanging on - but I managed to believe in myself and know that at the end I can sprint.

"The kick worked for me and I'm really enjoying myself and living the dream. I'm so pleased with how the season has gone."

It was a memorable day for Robertson, who finished in second place, as he surprised girlfriend Magdalyne Masai with a proposal on the finishing line.

The crowd burst into cheers and applause as Robertson got down on one knee, before hugging and kissing his new fiancee.

Meanwhile, London Marathon winner Mary Keitany of Kenya surged to her third victory in the women's race in one hour, five minutes and 59 seconds.

Three-time runner-up Simon Lawson won the men's wheelchair race and Manuela Schar broke the course record by more than a minute in the women's wheelchair event.

The day also created some special memories for the public, including former rugby player Colin Plews, who pounded the roads wearing a big pink dress.

Weighing three-and-a-half stone, the colourful outfit was decorated in hundreds of uniquely designed roses, each made with one special person in mind. One of the roses was dedicated to teenagers Chloe Rutherford and Liam Curry, both from South Shields, who were killed in the Manchester Arena bombing attack in May.

Colin said: "My son was at school with Chloe, and it was just absolutely heartbreaking. I get choked up every time I talk about it."

Runner David Smith, of Chesterfield, also caught the crowd's attention as he ran in a Scooby Doo costume for the Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Society.

David's wife Ann suffers from the debilitating condition and he takes part in the event every year to support the charity.

David said: "It's so important to me to raise money in the hope of finding a cure or making life easier for people with MS. It's a fantastic race."

Friends Ann Reid and Claire McNiven, who were running their 11th race, both wore wedding dresses to raise money for a mental health charity.

Ann, from the Isle of Arran, said: "We just enjoy the crowds, the goodwill of the Newcastle people." The public were joined by celebrities including television presenter Davina McCall, newsreader Sophie Raworth and X Factor contestant Sam Lavery.

But perhaps the most special race of all was completed by the last person to finish.

Matt Hadden, 28, is terminally ill with bone cancer and has had a leg amputated. He tackled the route wearing a prosthetic leg and reached the finishing line in a time of four hours and 48 minutes.

The race's director of communications, David Hart, said that Matt was the "true winner" of yesterday's event.

APPLAUSE FOR LEGEND MIKE PEOPLE united for a minute's applause at the Great North Run to pay tribute to veteran television presenter Mike Neville. The 80-year-old, who was the face of television news for 40 years in the North East, died in hospital on Wednesday.

Crowds burst into applause as they gathered on Newcastle's Central Motorway ahead of the half marathon.

Mike officially started the first race in 1981, when 12,000 runners made their way to South Shields.

He became a household name as presenter of Look North from 1964 until 1996.

He then made the move back to Tyne Tees, where he started his career in 1959, to present its evening news programme, North East Tonight, before retiring in 2006. He spent his last years at his home in Whickham.

Following his death, his family said it was "a great comfort" to know he had been so popular with the public.

BRENDAN GETS IT ALL GOING ambition to fire the Great North Run starting gun.

The North East sporting legend set runners away for the 37th running of the race he founded in 1981.

Fellow Olympic athletics medallists Denise Lewis and Katharine Merry joined him at the start line.

Denise, a heptathlon champion from the 2000 Sydney Olympics, was part of the BBC Sport team covering the event.

She said: "The atmosphere is incredible. Just that nervous excitement is buzzing.

"It's a great one with everybody raising money for charity, just a great couple of days.

"Today isn't just about the professional athletes, it's about the biggest half marathon in the world and people coming from all over the country to raise money."

Katharine, who won bronze in the 400m in Sydney, was taking part in her first Great North Run.

The sprinter was running as one of the pacemakers, known as the Duracell Bunnies, setting a specific time for fellow competitors to follow.

Katharine said the atmosphere around the event was "brilliant".

She said: "I've had the pleasure of working on the Great North Run from a broadcasting point of view and I've always said if I was mad enough to do a half marathon I would love to this one.

"How can you not be inspired by some of the stories people are raising money for? It's a fantastic day."

For Brendan firing the starting gun was just the start of a blizzard of high-fives for the runners as, for the next 53 minutes, they edged through the start line. By the time the last ones had worked there way through, Sir Mo Farah was already in South Shields.

ARROWS' SALUTE FROM THE SKY Here's the awe-inspiring view from the Red Arrows' cockpit as they flew over the Great North Run in their "salute" to runners.

The world famous RAF squadron soared over Newcastle yesterday.

The aerobatics team put on a fantastic show for spectators and runners - if they were not too focussed on their time.

The Red Arrows display over the Tyne Bridge has become an iconic moment for the Great North Run each year.

Those on the ground cheered as the jets flew overhead.

From the cockpit you can see how the city looks from the pilot's angle.

Footage captured from the cockpit shows the rest of the squadron flying in their trademark V-formation. They then switch on their plumes of white smoke as the display begins.

More than 57,000 people took part in the Great North Run this year, the Red Arrows described the flypast as their "salute" to all of the runners.

It's so important to me to raise money in the hope of finding a cure or making life easier for people with MS. It's a fantastic race. Runner David Smith

CAPTION(S):

Runners spill over the Tyne Bridge in their thousands at the start of the Great North Run Tim McGuinness

Runners spill over the Tyne Bridge in their thousands Tim McGuinness
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Sep 11, 2017
Words:1295
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