The Virtual Great North Run will see runners all over the world complete 13.1 miles on 13th September, the day the 40th staging of the iconic half marathon was scheduled to take place. Working with app provider viRace, the organisers have created a unique running experience called GNR Reimagined that uses iconic sounds from the event to take the runner on a Great North Run journey on their doorstep.

The app will highlight popular course features, provide distance updates and play motivational messages through the runners’ headphones as they take on the challenge anywhere in the world.

The Virtual Great North Run is free to enter and open to everyone, regardless of whether they had a place in this year’s event, and participants are encouraged to raise money for charity.

Paul Foster, chief executive of The Great Run Company, says: ‘Over £25m is raised for good causes every year at the Great North Run and our charity village usually hosts 100 charities at the finish line in South Shields.

‘Right now fundraising is more important than ever before. Many runners have seen their fundraising efforts halted in recent months, so we encourage them join the Virtual Great North Run in the hope that we can still raise a significant fundraising total for these worthy causes.’

A record 60,000 people were accepted into the Great North Run ballot this year, with many entrants signing up to be a part of the 40th celebrations. The event was subsequently cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic and GNR Reimagined was born.

Race options

The campaign provides runners with two virtual running propositions; Great North Run Solo to take them through what would have been the traditional training period, and the Virtual Great North Run to give an on the day virtual race experience.

Launched on 28th June, the anniversary of the first ever Great North Run, Great North Run Solo challenges runners to complete 40 runs up until the 13 September, the day the 40th event was scheduled to take place. Over 20,000 people signed up to the solo challenge with all profits donated to the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal, raising almost £250,000 for the charity.

Organisers expect thousands of people to complete the Virtual Great North Run across the UK and worldwide, but stress that participants must still follow government guidelines regarding social distancing when they take on their challenge.

Bringing it to your doorstep

Paul Foster continues: ‘There will be no physical Great North Run in 2020, so we decided that since we can’t do it together, we will bring it to your doorstep instead.

‘We really wanted to provide an experience as close as possible to the real thing. We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to provide participants with a virtual audio and running experience featuring Great North Run sounds that runners and spectators know and love… and we’ve thrown in a few surprises too.’

Starting with the very first Great North Run in 1981, the Great North Run is one of the UK’s most popular half marathons. The Great Run Series now sees 230,000 participants a year taking part.