The Media, Regional Culture and the Great North Run: 'Big Bren's Human Race'
The Great North Run is a cultural phenomenon, a hugely popular participatory, spectator sport and televised half-marathon event in its native north-east England, and a powerful expression of regional pride. Yet, like its southern big brother, the London Marathon, it has been largely ignored by British academic students of sport in favour of a focus upon team sports such as cricket, the rugby codes, and most especially football. This study begins by exploring the development of the Great North Run as a regional and national sporting event, its origins, the changing nature of sponsorship, participation rates, and media coverage. The second half of the piece examines a number of its features and its mode of portrayal in the media which have combined to make it of some significance in celebrating the North-East, its changing identity and its struggle for wider recognition during a period of economic difficulty and challenge.