Kenyan Wilson Kipsang and Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba recorded wins in the men's and women's events. The 2012 edition of the Run, which first started in 1981, saw a record 40,000 people take part, all the way from Newcastle to South Shields.
One of the highlights of the event was to have been Great Britian's Mo Farah, the double champion from the London Olympics 2012 (he won gold in the men's 5,000m and 10,000m). Unfortunately, the 29 year old Somalia-born pulled out ahead of the event, citing fatigue and the need to be with his family (his wife has recently given birth to twin daughters).
"The last few weeks have taken their toll and it would be disrespectful to take on the distance without the necessary hard training," he was quoted by the BBC.
Kipsang, the bronze medalist at the men's marathon in the London Olympics 2012 and holder of the world's second fastest time, enjoyed a close-fought and dramatic run with compatriot Micah Kogo. The 30 year old started his run strongly, moving smoothly through his gears and it seemed a routine win for the long distance specialist. He broke from the leading pack with a little over a mile to go and it seemed all over. But then, either because something interrupted his rhythm or Kogo found a second wind, Kipsang began to lose ground and lost the lead with 600m to go.
However, the Olympic medalist still had a few tricks up his sleeve and one was a last-minute sprint that sealed the day... the fact he managed the energy for that sprint is remarkable testament to his fitness and desire to win. Kipsang won in 59 minutes and six seconds.
"When he passed me, I thought: 'that's it!" said Kipsang, who won the Virgin London Marathon earlier this year, adding, "But I also thought if I can hang in I can win." The Africans rounded out the day, with Ethiopia's Imane Merga taking third.
Meanwhile, in the women's section, Ethiopia's Dibaba, a world record holder in the 5,000m outdoors event and gold medals in the 10,000m event from Beijing 2008 and London 2012, made her debut in the Great North Run in the best possible way... by winning it.
"This is my first 21k so I wanted to run carefully. The course is good but I knew there were lots of challenges that a road race could have. I had to wait to make my move at the start of the last mile and that is what I did. I've run in a 15k (she set a World record in 2009) before, but 21k is a different territory. The biggest difference between running on the track and on the road is that you can see other people on the screens (in a stadium) and control things," the confident 26 year old explained, adding, "It's a new experience for me, but I think I know how to run on the road as well as on the track. Yes, I was expecting to win."
Kenyan runner Edna Kiplagat took second after pushing Dibaba to the wire and the latter's compatriot, Tiki Gelena, took third to complete a clean sweep for Africa, again.
The elite men's wheelchair event was won by Canada's John Cassidy, who is now a two-time champion of the Great North Run (he earlier won in 2008) and the women's event by Jane Egan, the reigning world and European Para-triathlon title holder.