The Great North Run

CHORUS: It was thirteen miles at the most on the Great North Run
From Newcastle to the South Shields coast, on the Great North Run

I got the metro into town arriving with the rest,
After many months training this would be the test,
There were thousands of runners for charity and fun,
The gun went off at half past ten to start the Great North Run.

Down the central motorway the Tyne Bridge was in view,
Spectators all along the route, I may have known a few,
Along the Felling Bypass, down to the Whitemare Pool,
The first run that I’d been on since when I was at school.

I saw some funny sights as along that road I ran,
There were two roman soldiers, snow white, and supergran,
When I saw a TV cam’ra man facing me, I waved,
Two seconds later with water I was sprayed.

There were TV personalities from local ITV,
And of course Jimmy Saville from the BBC,
The disabled in their wheelchairs who had an early start,
Would make those feel guilty who hadn’t taken part.

We knew the end was getting near as we reached the sea,
With a right turn at the Bamburgh to finish at The Leas,
I was given a certificate when I reached the end,
As well as a medal to show of to me friends.

Words & Music by Wilf Mitford

From The Mitford Family album ‘Back to Northumbria’ (MM06)
Credits: Wilf Mitford, Vocals & Guitar; Pamela Mitford, Violin; Julia Mitford, Flute.  “Recorded & produced by Alan Fender at Red Nose Studios, North Shields, in May 1981. With thanks to Maggie Mitford & Tony Corcoran”

The Great North Run was an obvious local event for dad to write about, and in true folk tradition he documented a significant part of North East tradition which continues today.   He researched the song using the newspaper archive at the library – as a librarian this is music to my ears!  When I chatted to him about the song recently he said it was a bit of an album filler.  He recalls we recorded it in 1991 for our ‘Back to Northumbria’ album and proudly reminded me we recorded 30 tracks in one day at Red Nose Studios, North Shields.  We were nothing if not efficient in our use of studio time!

The song was used in a video celebrating 10 years of the Great North Run which was an exciting project to be part of.  A call went out in the paper for people to get in touch and share their memories of the run for the making of the video and of course, not one to miss any opportunity to get his music out there, Dad put the song straight in the post. We were filmed whilst doing our stint at the Gateshead Garden Festival.  Unfortunately I only have a small clip. You’ll notice our glorious yellow tshirts which, in addition to helping us stand out from the crowd, also attracted bees!  At some stage I’ll upload the fantastic video dad put together with footage from the 10 years video and his song.

The song is also a good example of Dad’s style of arranging.  He liked to showcase my sister & I and our various instruments so you hear us fill the gaps between chorus & verse with a refrain of the last line of the chorus.  This became a bit of a trademark for us.  He didn’t have any formal music training so wasn’t able to write sheet music for us, however he would go to great lengths, using his guitar, to figure out the notes and simply write those out by name for us.

Update : here’s the video Dad put together with tv footage and his song

Creative Commons License
The Great North Run by Wilf Mitford is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at

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