In pictures: Thousands of children take part in Mini and Junior Great North Runs

Thousands of children took part in the curtain-raiser to the Great North Run this morning.

More than 8,500 children entered the Mini and Junior Great North Runs on Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides.

The Junior and Mini courses both start on the Newcastle side of the River and take the young runners across to Gateshead via the Swing Bridge.

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The Juniors have a slightly extended version that loops along the river, but both the Juniors and the Minis will cross back across the Gateshead Millennium Bridge towards the finish line on the Newcastle side.

Track and field events are also being staged as part of the Great City Games, with London 2012 Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford competing in his final event before retirement.

Other leading names taking part include double Paralympic gold medallist Jonnie Peacock who will be returning to competitive action in the T44 100m. About 25,000 people are expected to turn out.

About 57,000 entries have been submitted for Sunday's Great North Run and, although not all of those will take to the start line, organisers estimate the event will see the largest number of finishers in its history.

The day will be rounded off with the Great North 5k at 5pm.

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Runners start on the Newcastle side of the river and cross over the Swing Bridge, and then loop to the west before heading back down to pass the Sage on the Gateshead side.

The last kilometre gives runners the chance to run over the Gateshead Millennium Bridge before the final straight back on the Newcastle side.

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