Page last updated at 15:42 GMT, Sunday, 20 September 2009 16:42 UK

Thousands finish Great North Run


A record number of entrants started the 29th Great North Run

Thousands of runners have finished the 29th Great North Run on Tyneside.

A record 54,000 people registered for the annual half-marathon between Newcastle and South Shields, watched by about 30,000 spectators.

Musician Sting and Ashes-winning England and Durham cricketer Steve Harmison had sounded the starting gun.

Kenya's Martin Lel won the elite men's race for the second time in his career, while Portugal's Jessica Augusto won in the elite women's event.

Musician Sting and Ashes-winning England cricketer Steve Harmison
Sting flew in from the United States to start the race with Steve Harmison

Sting said: "It is so exciting to be here and the atmosphere is incredible.

"It is a perfect day with blue skies and everybody is smiling."

Britain's David Weir broke the men's wheelchair course record by over a minute, while American Amanda McGrory won the women's wheelchair title.

The first celebrity to finish the race was Olympic rower James Cracknell.

Other famous entrants this year included chef Gordon Ramsey, EastEnders actors Kara Tointon and Joe Swash, and Hull City manager Phil Brown.

Sir Bobby Robson's son Mark, who ran to raise funds for his late father's cancer foundation, said: "He was the honorary starter for the race twice and I always remember him saying that his hand nearly fell off because he shook so many hands.

"He loved doing it and it is a great event".

The first Great North Run took place in June 1981 with 12,770 runners.

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