The Great North Run is going virtual in 2020, with an app allowing people to vicariously experience the half marathon as they run in their local area.

The free app will highlight popular features of the Great North Run course, which spans 13.1 miles between Newcastle and South Shields. It will use sound from past events, distance updates and motivational messages to recreate some of the atmosphere of the race.

Entries are now open for the Virtual Great North Run, which will take place on 13 September. The race’s organisers have stressed that anyone running the race ‘virtually’ should comply with social distancing measures.

2020 would have been the 40th anniversary of the Great North Run, with a record 60,000 people due to take part. The event was cancelled in June due to Covid-19.

A statement on the Great North Run website reads: “This year is different. We won’t be on the start line, we aren’t waiting for you at the finish, you won’t have thousands cheering you on…but you can still Be Your Greatest!

“With our partners ViRACE, we are creating an app to bring you an innovative virtual experience with audio clips from the event so that you will hear the sounds of the Great North Run. From an upbeat warm-up led by the legendary Roy Gayle, to chants of OGGY OGGY OGGY, and the iconic roar of the Red Arrows fly-past, we are making it feel as much like the real event as we can!

“We will mimic a race format so that all runners start their Virtual Great North Run at the same time and complete the same 13.1 mile distance. Runners will be tracked throughout the virtual race and will be able to view results after the race has finished.”