A record 40,230 people started the Great North Run 2012, representing every postcode in the UK.
The athlete had been set to run in today's 13.1 mile event, but bowed out earlier this month after admitting the London 2012 games had taken their toll.
He said today: "There are so many people here, it's unbelievable.
"Everyone was smiling, giving us high fives and it's just been brilliant."
The Red Arrows flew in formation over the Tyne Bridge as the race got underway and despite overcast skies and showers, thousands lined the course between Newcastle and South Shields to cheer on elite athletes and members of the public taking part.
Canadian sprinter Josh Cassidy, 27, won the Men's Wheelchair race at this year's event with a time of 43 minutes and 18 seconds.
Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba, 27, won the women's race in her half marathon debut with a time of one hour, seven minutes and 35 seconds.
Kenyan Wilson Kispang, 30, won the men's race with a time of 59 minutes and six seconds in a sprint finish against fellow countryman Micah Kogo.
Celebrity runners included X-Factor winner and South Shields native Joe McElderry, model Nell McAndrew, and BBC News presenter Sophie Raworth.
One participant, Tony ‘The Fridge’ Phoenix-Morrison from Hebburn, South Tyneside, is set to complete his 30th consecutive half marathon today at the Great North Run.
He is raising money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and challenged himself to run a half marathon every day for a month with a 6 stone fridge strapped to his back, which people can put cash donations in.
The Great North Run sponsor Bupa has announced a £1 million investment in school sport over the next three years, through its partnership with the Youth Sport Trust.
The money will be spent on expanding the Bupa Start to Move programme, which was created in 2010 by Bupa and the Youth Sport Trust to transform how movement is taught to 4-7 year olds.
- Great North CityGames Complete 'Perfect Summer Of Sport'
- Cheers, Tears and Harley Davidsons For Tony The Fridge
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