Plans have been unveiled to celebrate the Great North Run and the 40th staging of the event in 2020.

The half marathon was first staged in 1981 where almost 12,000 people took part. Now, the event has grown to be the world’s biggest half marathon, with 57,000 people registered to take part annually, and more than 1.2 million people having taken part across the event’s history.

The Great North Run organiser has officially launched the GNR40 celebrations with a bespoke logo hinting back to the event’s first staging, and announced some of the new innovations for 2020.

These will include moving the popular Great North 5K from the Saturday prior to Great North Run day back to a Friday night and inviting the business community of Tyneside to enter a team as part of the Business Challenge, which will allow the full Saturday to be dedicated to the Junior and Mini Great North Runs, which have grown into large children’s running events.

Brendan Foster, chairman of the Great Run Company and founder of the event, said: “This event has been made what it is by the people of the North East at first, then that grew to the people of the UK. The idea fell on very fertile ground and grew incredibly quickly from there. This event is for everyone, it’s open to all.

“This year, while we can expect the biggest Great North Run ever, it’s the people taking part that will make it the best Great North Run ever.

“We couldn’t imagine the success this has grown into being at the start, when we had 12,000 finishers in 1981. It was the biggest event then but we had no idea we’d break 50,000.”