A History of the Great North Run

Published: September 2015

It’s not long until the start of the world’s leading half marathon – The Great North Run, and it’s finishing right on our doorstep in sunny South Shields.

We thought we’d mark the occasion by having a run through of the event’s branding, branding and promotion history, and how the Great North Run has evolved and shaped our region over the last 3 decades.

1981 – The first Great North Run

great north run 1981

The first great North Run started in Newcastle back in 1981 with 12,000 runners making the race.

This event was sponsored by Thorn Gas Heating, and the branding colours were typically British: Red, white and blue. You can see from the image below of the original medal that the logo contained the iconic Tyne Bridge with the runners beneath it – quite minimalist and modern for the 80’s!

Image copyright

Image copyright

1991 – Ten Years Later

great north run medal 1991

Image copyright

In 1991, Diet Coke sponsored the Great North Run, and the branding changed along with their new sponsor. The medals were more creatively designed with the ‘Diet Coke’ logo and the slogan ‘Just for the taste of it’ emblazoned across the front.

1993 – 2014 – Bupa Takeover

GreatNorthRun 2010 30th anniversary

In 1993, Bupa took over as the sponsor of the Great North Run and remained in partnership for the next twenty years. Their iconic ‘blue’ branding remained consistent and noticeable throughout this time, with our particular favourite logo in 2011, celebrating the run’s 30th birthday.

2015 – Welcome Morrisons!

Great North Run Logo 2015

This year sees the end of Bupa’s sponsorship deal with the Great North Run and the beginning of Morrison’s takeover. The branding is synergistic with both brands – retaining the iconic blue branding of the run and the instantly recognisable Morrison’s yellow and green logo.

We hope you enjoyed our jog down the Great North memory lane! We’d like to wish all of this year’s 57,000 runners, including Craig and David from the Urban River team who are taking part the very best of luck!

If you’d like us to create a successful branding for your business, give us a call today and we can help you out with our bespoke branding service and Newcastle web design service.

Want a website that really get results?

Let's get started

Sign up to receive our latest articles hot off the press