Preparations are in full swing ahead of this year’s Great North Run event.
The world famous half marathon returns to the region on Sunday and Olympic gold medal winner Mo Farah will once again line up alongside a host of elite athletes from across the world.
“This is a fantastic event and we are really looking forward to meeting competitors and spectators from every corner of the globe.”Chief inspector Jamie Pitt
Police, race organisers, local authorities and the public transport providers have been working for a number of months to ensure the event passes off without incident.
Extra Metro services have been put in place, certain stations will be closed to assist in transporting people to and from the finish line and residents have been contacted to inform them of the road closures in place over the weekend.
Northumbria Police Chief Inspector Jamie Pitt will be the silver commander for the event and he cannot wait to welcome people to the region from nearly 200 different countries.
He said: “This is a fantastic event and we are really looking forward to meeting competitors and spectators from every corner of the globe.
“The Great Run Company have confirmed that runners from nearly every country in the world will be participating in the race and it is a real opportunity for us to be able to showcase just how great our region is. “A number of police officers and police staff will also be running the race and we are proud to give them our full backing as they go on their final training runs ahead of next weekend.
“Those officers on duty will be highly visible all along the race route and there will also be armed officers on patrol to reassure any visitors concerned that the event may be targeted.
“They are not their in response to any specific threat and have been very well received at other high profile events in the region including the Tall Ships, Newcastle Pride and the Sunderland Air Show.
“Our region’s roads will be very busy all weekend but we have been meticulous in planning how we will manage the strategic road networks and both NEXUS and DB Regio have detail plans to ensure our Metro lines run as smoothly as possible.
Nearly twice as many Metro trains will be in operation on the day of the race and some stations will be closed to the public to minimise dirsuption for those travelling to and from the finish line.
Free parking will be in place at Park and Ride sites at the following Metro stations: Callerton Parkway, Bank Foot, Kingston Park, Regent Centre, Four Lane Ends, Northumberland Park, East Boldon, Fellgate and Stadium of Light.
There is also a council operated car park at Heworth which requires a small fee but the surrounding roads will be closed for most of the day as the nearby roads form part of the Great North Run route.
Bus operator Stagecaoch North East is helping participants, their supporters and the general public by offering extra express bus services between the finish line, South Shields Ferry and Metro, and Newcastle City Centre.
Due to the popularity of the event and the sheer amount of crowds the Great North Run attracts to help provide moral support for over 57,000 runners, Stagecoach is doing its best to ensure that people can get to the start and finish in time.
Service 552 provides a handy link from near the finish line at Bents Park Road to South Shields Metro and across to South Shields Ferry Landing for £1.30 per single journey.
Service 553 provides the main direct express link to Newcastle City Centre.
Both services run very frequently on the day, starting around 7am until 5pm.
And South Tyneside Council is advising motorists to plan their travel and parking arrangements should they be in the area on Sunday.
Roadworks are ongoing at the Lindisfarne and John Reid roundabouts as part of a major highways improvement scheme, however two lanes will be open at all times on Saturday and Sunday.
There are thousands of free and paid-for parking spaces in and around South Shields town centre and seafront area.
The Leas, which is the finish point for the event, and Dragon football fields offer fully-stewarded parking at a charge of £10.
Town centre pay and display car parks are £1 all day and Foreshore pay and display car parks will remain £3 all day.
There are also more than 300 free parking spaces in the town centre and Foreshore areas.
Councillor Allan West, lead member for housing and transport, said: “This is the biggest half marathon in the world and there will be a huge volume of people and traffic in the Borough so we would ask people to leave plenty of time and to be patient.
“We would also advise drivers to follow local signage that has been erected specifically for the Run rather than following their sat navs as certain routes will not be available as usual.
“There are more than 6,000 parking spaces in South Shields town centre and around the seafront. For anyone travelling from the south, we would recommend parking on The Leas, using the A183 coast road to access.
“For everyone’s safety, and to ensure as smooth a traffic flow as possible, people should only park in designated spaces.”