Sunderland Harrier Eddie Maddison, at the age of 68, is going into the 36th Great North Run as an ever present.
He is among a dwindling group of runners that have competed in every Great North Run since the first in 1981.
But this time the South Hylton athlete goes into the world’s biggest half marathon from Newcastle to South Shields with his most worrying problem yet.
He is suffering from a hip injury and has been unable to train for five weeks.
He said: “It has been giving me a lot of problems. I have been unable to run and it has cost me a lot of fitness.
“But, I will be there – even if I have to walk it, I will complete the course.”
The ever presents have been issued with blue and white striped numbers which entitles them to start at the front, if they wish. They have also been given their own special T-shirt complete with logo. The All Runs Club members are aged between 52 and 85.
Maddison was also presented with a special plaque to mark his 20th appearance in the race. That is proudly displayed in his trophy cabinet. All his treasured GNR T-shirts are unused and hanging up in the wardrobe.
When he collected his first T-shirt he managed to complete the course in 1hr 32min 33sec on limited training. “I was delighted with that. I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I thought I would never run as fast again,” he reflected.
But after being encouraged to join Sunderland Harriers and steered towards a more structured training programme he recorded his fastest time as a 39-year-old of 1.13.24.
Mo Farah, the world’s most successful distance runner, with his superb double-double at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro – bids to become the first athlete to win the GNR for the third consecutive time.
Having won his eighth and ninth major worldwide titles with victory in the 10,000m and 5,000m in the Olympic Stadium in Rio, Farah surpassed Kenenisa Bekele as the most successful distance runner of all time.
“The Great North Run is one of my favourite events and I’m looking forward to coming to the North East to defend my title,” he said.
In 2014 he became the first British man to win the Great North Run since Steve Kenyon in 1985, and his 2015 time of 59.22 is a British record.
Farah, 33, will find opposition in the shape of Dathan Ritzenhein, the World Half Marathon Championships bronze medallist.
Kenyan Emmanuel Bett has also been announced for the half marathon, looking to complete a rare double having won the Great South Run ten-mile event in 2013. Bett was formerly the fastest man in the world over 10,000m in 2014.
Brendan Foster, chairman of The Great Run Company, was in the BBC commentary box when Farah won all four Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016, and is delighted to welcome him back to Tyneside.
He said: “He’s the greatest British athlete in history and will be bidding to make it three in a row at the Great North Run. The welcome he’ll receive from the North East public will be deafening.”
The Great North Run will be broadcast on BBC One on Sunday, between 9.30am and 1.30pm, with a highlights show on BBC Two at 6pm.
Sunderland Harrier Andy Powell led Sunderland Harriers home in the Middlesbrough Tees Pride 10k in eighth place (33.01), next came Sparrow Morley in 11th (33.19), Michael Thompson was first Over-45 in 22nd (34.06), Ian Ritchie was 24th (34.20), Paul Blakey returned to competition after illness to place 43rd and fifth Over-40 (36.09), Craig Harriman was 61st (37.13), Michael Edwards finished 69th (37.41), Darren Stoker was 157th (40.41) and Jimmy Johnson 164th (40.53).
Houghton Harrier Lee Dover was 33rd (35.14) and Sunderland Stroller Chris Dwyer was 63rd (37.19).
Houghton Harriers had two winners in the Sunderland Harrier young athletes races at the Farringdon cross country. They were Under-15 Lydia James and Under-13 Amy Leonard.