THE district will be well represented when the Great North Run gets under way this weekend.

Hundreds of local runners will be among the 57,000 who will make the journey from Newcastle to South Shields.

Many will be seasoned athletes, looking to improve on their previous personal best times.

Others will have less than competitive goals, and will be focused on raising money for charitable causes.

Hexham businessman Joao Correia will swap the comfortable surroundings of his coffee shop for the 13.1-mile route across Tyneside on Sunday morning.

A Portugese national, Joao has run Bunter’s Coffee Shop, on Hallgate, for the past 22 years, where he has become a familiar face.

He took up running four years ago, and is about to embark on his second successive Great North Run, while raising money for Chrysalis at Tynedale.

The Hexham-based charity organises activities for people suffering from dementia and ongoing memory problems.

Friends, family members, and support workers are encouraged to join in with the activity sessions, which include away days, social lunches, and opportunities to get involved with everything from gardening to golf.

Joao said: “Having worked in the coffee shop for 22 years, a lot of my customers have become friends. I know people who have been affected by dementia, and I am well aware of the positive impact Chrysalis at Tynedale has had on their lives.”

Now aged 50, Joao is using his new running hobby as a platform to support various good causes.

He added: “Last year, I ran the Great North Run in aid of Prostate Cancer UK, and I have also ran the Hexham Half Marathon in aid of mental health charity, Mind.

“None of us know when we might need to call upon these organisations, and I think we all need to do our bit.”

Durham cricketer Mark Wood, who was part of England’s World Cup winning team this summer, will join England women footballers Steph Houghton and Jill Scott on the starting line.

Wood, who took 18 wickets during England’s successful World Cup campaign, regularly bowling in excess of 90mph said: “Coming from the North-East, it is a fantastic honour to be one of the starters for the 2019 Great North Run.

“I am very passionate about the region and healthy living so it will be brilliant to see so many runners taking part, some of whom are raising money for very worthwhile causes.”

The annual race has been an ever present since 1981.

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