The 10km Gateshead event saw over 5000 runners take part, including 200 Gurkha soldiers from Catterick Garrison

Sparrow Morley and Michelle Nolan were the winners as the Great North 10k Gateshead celebrated a record number of entries on Sunday (July 3).

Two-hundred Gurkha soldiers from Catterick Garrison joined over 5000 runners taking part in the 10km event. The Great North 10k is the premium event for club runners in the north east of England and this year a record number of 235 runners from 11 clubs across the region took part.

Sunderland Harriers runner Morley won the men’s race in 34:27 and was followed by Luke Duffy in 34:45 and David Cole in 35:05.

“This is the third time I have run the Great North 10k but it feels great to come first for the very first time,” said Morley, after finishing first inside Gateshead International Stadium.

“I train in this stadium so it’s a special moment. I’ve run up that hill many times and although it’s tough, there were a lot of supporters round there and they really helped you make it to the top.”

In the women’s race, Nolan claimed victory in 38:24 ahead of Mary Ferrier in 40:19. Third place was claimed by Louise Talman in 42:00.

The winner, of Gateshead Harriers, said: “I came third last year and although I seemed to have run at a slower pace, it was fast enough to win it this year which is fantastic.”

The thousands of runners of the North East’s biggest 10km pounded the pavements of the scenic NewcastleGateshead Quayside, passing the iconic sights of Sage Gateshead, the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.

Runners were set off by folk-rock band Lindisfarne, who were honorary starters of the event.

The North East music icons, whose popular hits include Fog on the Tyne and Run For Home, also lent their song name to the infamous 9km hill on the course, after the Great North 10k social media followers voted that it should be named “Slog on the Tyne.”

The Gurkha soldiers gathered on the start line in their own separate wave and took on the event as part of their training programme.

Major Ed Withey, Commander of the Gurkha programme at Catterick Garrison, said: “They are the best of the best, we selected these 200 recruits from around 10,000 and they are the elite of their group.

“Everyone was so excited to be here today, it’s a first for some of the recruits and they don’t get to see much beyond the walls of the barracks so this is a great experience for them.”

The 10km is the sister event to the Great North Run, the world’s favourite run, and thousands of participants crossed the finish line as part of their training for the half-marathon on September 11.

The Great North 10k is also the relation of Great Britain’s first ever-fun run, set up by Brendan Foster, which started and finished inside Gateshead International Stadium in 1977.

The thousands of runners that took part on Sunday are part of the history of the Gateshead Fun Run, crossing the finish line on the very same athletics track of the iconic stadium.

For the first time, the Great North 10k also featured two brand new family events, where hundreds of children and their families got the chance to take on a shorter running route.

Mark Rutherford of event organisers The Great Run Company said: “2016 is a record year for the Great North 10k Gateshead which has grown to become the North East’s biggest 10km running event with over 5000 runners.

“It’s also the perfect opportunity for many runners to get some important training miles in ahead of the Great North Run in September.

“With the return of the Gurkha soldiers and some fantastic new additions like Slog on the Tyne, the event has welcomed thousands of people to the iconic Gateshead International stadium for a special day in the region’s running calendar.

“We’re thrilled to have been able to include a family element in the event this year. With the Great North 10k Family Mile and the Great North 10k Toddler Dash, we hope to inspire the young runners of the future to take on the 10km in the years to come!”

Entry for the 2017 Great North 10k Gateshead, which will take place on Sunday July 9, is now open at greatrun.org/north10k.