What's a good Great North Run time? Runners prepare for half marathon as it returns to South Shields for 2022

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Thousands of runners are getting ready for the 2022 Great North Run as the course returns to South Shields for the first time since the pandemic – and most will have at least a rough idea of their target finish time.

The question “what was your time?” will also almost certainly follow from anyone after the event who takes an interest.

Of course, just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a ‘good’ Great North Run time is all dependent on the runner.

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Mo Farah would see a 1hr 25min finish as a disaster, while you may be absolutely thrilled to ever get anywhere near that.

Great North Run 2022 is just days away. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)Great North Run 2022 is just days away. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)
Great North Run 2022 is just days away. (Photo by Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Every time is a personal achievement, and for many, just crossing the finish line in South Shields will be enough, however long it takes.

What’s the average time for a half marathon?

According to Runners World, the average half marathon finish time in the UK is 2:02:43, with 1:55:26 for men and 2:11:57 for women.

So, if you’re doing it in under 2hrs 2mins, you’re already above average – and that’s setting aside all of those who are at home watching TV instead of running.

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What’s the average time for the Great North Run?

The average finish time for the Great North Run, however, is a little slower, at least according to the latest readily available statistics, which date from 2015, at 2:12:19.

There could be a number of reasons for this, and without looking taking any kind of scientific analysis, it might be easy to wager why.

The Great North Run attracts a lot more fun or casual runners than other half marathons.

The sheer volume of people taking part also presents physical challenges to runners.

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Despite the best organisational efforts, avoiding tripping over other runners, and easily passing those who are running slower than you, is difficult on the crowded course.

And the size of the event means just getting to the start line on the day can be a draining experience even before you start running, at least as far as the author has found.

If you take part in other half marathons, this probably isn’t going to be the one where you get your PB (personal best time).

So, in essence, if you can get under 2hours 12mins for the Great North Run, you’re already above average.

But we asked what a ‘good’ time for the Great North Run was?

Ok, again, a ‘good’ time depends on the runner.

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According to Runners World, a good goal time for your first half marathon is somewhere between two hours 20 minutes and three hours.

For those with a bit more experience in running, getting under two hours is a popular goal, and will probably attract impressed faces from colleagues when they as you your Great North Run time at work the next day.

If you’re really aiming to be top of the tree, the half marathon world record is 57:31, set by Ugandan Jacob Kiplimo in November 2021 at the Lisbon Half Marathon.

For women, it’s 1:02:52, set by Ethiopia’s Letesenbet Gidey in October 2021 at the Valencia Half Marathon.

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Martin Mathathi holds the Great North Run course record with his run of 58:56 in 2011, and the women’s record is held by Brigid Kosgei's with 1:04:28 in 2019.

Incidentally, Kosgei’s finish was the fasted recorded for a woman at the time – but the nature of the Great North Run course means it is not eligible for world records.

That’s because it is a point-to-point course and, though you may not believe this at some stages, it is a ‘downhill’ course, finishing lower than it started.

So, again, what’s a good time?

A good time is the time you want and you achieve. And if it’s slower than you would have hoped, so what?

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Be proud. It was still impossibly faster than everyone who stayed in bed sleeping off a hangover, or spent the morning sitting watching television with a bacon sandwich.

:: The Great North Run 2022 takes place on Sunday, September 11, at 10.45am.

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