Brendan Foster has enhanced his legendary status in the North East after Newcastle City Council nominated the former long-distance runner for Freedom of the City. Foster, who is Tyneside born, has been honoured for his long-standing contribution to sport, most specifically founding the world’s largest half marathon event, the Great North Run.
Now 68, Foster enjoyed a successful career in distance running, competing in three separate Olympic Games, taking bronze over 10,000 in 1976 in Montreal and at the 1978 Commonwealth Games.
Foster launched the Great North Run in 1981 after competing in the Round the Bays event in New Zealand two years earlier, and, since then, it has established itself as the most popular half marathon in the world.
The race now regularly attracts 50,000 entries each year. Such has been its continued popularity over the years, in 2014, the event celebrated its one millionth finisher.
Councillor Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, commented on the nomination and Foster’s importance to the North East: “Brendan has made the Great North Run the greatest half marathon in the world and inspired generations of people to be more active. He is one of our region’s cultural and sporting ambassadors."