Hundreds of South Tyneside schoolchildren met Olympic hero Sir Mo Farah today (Friday 8 September) when they put their best foot forward for a fun run ahead of the AJ Bell Great North Run weekend.
The World champion distance runner set the youngsters off from their start line – the official AJ Bell Great North Run finish line – on The Leas in South Shields, to embark on a 1.4k junior fun run along South Shields promenade to Gypsies Green stadium.
The ‘Fit for the Finish’ run involved more than 300 Year 5 and 6 pupils from across 13 local schools in a Council-led initiative supported by The Great Run Company.
Joining Sir Mo at the start line was the Leader of South Tyneside Council, Councillor Tracey Dixon, who said: “Fit for the Finish is all about encouraging more children to get active and what better way to inspire them than by drawing on the excitement and build up to the iconic Great North Run which ends on our stunning coastline.
“We were thrilled that one of the greatest athletes of all time, Sir Mo Farah could join us for this event and meet the children, as he himself prepares for his historical final Great North Run and retirement from running.
“Sir Mo is an incredible role model, a hero to many and a real inspiration to the next generation of runners. It was an amazing and special experience and one I’ve no doubt the children will remember and talk about for many years to come.
“The event also supports our Council ambition of being healthy and well. It not only gave the children a chance to be active, meet a running legend, but have fun with friends at the same time.”
Runners were greeted by the Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor John McCabe, as they crossed the finish line, where they received a medal-shaped pack of seeds to plant at home as an environmentally friendly alternative to a traditional medal.
Paul Foster, Chief Executive of the Great Run Company, said: “We were delighted to welcome 300 local young people to the iconic finish line of the AJ Bell Great North Run today.
“The Fit for the Finish event is a fantastic opportunity to embed a lifelong love of running and staying active across South Tyneside. We hope the opportunity to meet Sir Mo Farah inspires all those taking part of aim high and keep running!”
After the run, Sir Mo answers questions from pupils in the Great North Run Finishers Marquee before they enjoyed activities with the Council’s Sports Development Team.