THOUSANDS braved the wind and the rain to hit the finishing line at a thrilling Great North Run yesterday.
While the rain lashed down on Olympic champion and charity champion alike, it was never going to dampen the enthusiastic spirit on show.
A huge crowd turned out in force at The Leas, in South Shields, to cheer the runners on as they reached the tough final steps of their gruelling journey.
The 13.1 miles came down to just one second as Kenenisa Bekelele held off a dramatic late charge from British hero Mo Farah to clinch victory in the men’s race in 60 minutes and seven seconds in the closest-fought finale in the race’s rich history.
Long-distance running icon Haile Gebrselassie was third home in the star-studded field.
There was home success in both the male and female wheelchair races, which were claimed by six-time Paralympic gold medallist David Weir and Shelly Woods.
The women’s event was won by Kenya’s Priscah Jeptoo, who finished in one hour, five minutes and 44 seconds – four seconds outside the course record.
But the annual extravaganza is about far more than final finishing places and record bids.
The event – the brainchild of former middle-distance runner Brendan Foster – started with 12,000 runners in 1981 and has swelled to a record field of nearly 56,000 this year.
Big-hearted competitors donned cowboy outfits, came dressed as superheroes and cartoon characters - all in the name of charity.