10 things only people who’ve run the great north run will understand

The Red Arrows fly over the Tyne Bridge during 2014 Bupa Great North Run, Newcastle.

The Great North Run is the world’s leading half marathon and was first staged in 1981 where just over 12,000 people took part from the start line in Newcastle upon Tyne to the finish in South Shields on the coast. Entries have soared over the 33 years with entries reaching 57,000 in 2014. In 2014 the event made history as it became the first IAAF event in the world to welcome its one millionth finisher.

I have run it twice, 2004 and 2007 so this year it will be my 3rd and I’m going to get a Great North Run personal best…just watch me (on live BBC TV possibly). To be honest seen as I ran in ‘fancy dress’ in 2004 and paced my (now ex…maybe I was too fast! ;-)) wife to a pb in 2007 my goal shouldn’t be too hard but my aim is to go under 85 mins…not a PB but again it will be a course one.

GNR 1

I was honoured to be asked to write this blog post for The Running Bug in association with the #PUMApoints challenge as Team Captain for the mighty, strong finishing #TeamIgnite and they gave me the title “10 things only people who’ve run the Great North Run will understand”…wow, 8 years ago is a long time ago so I had to put my thinking cap on…here goes…

10 things only people who’ve run the great north run will understand

The Great North Run is the world’s leading half marathon and was first staged in 1981 where just over 12,000 people took part from the start line in Newcastle upon Tyne to the finish in South Shields on the coast. Entries have soared over the 33 years with entries reaching 57,000 in 2014. In 2014 the event made history as it became the first IAAF event in the world to welcome its one millionth finisher.

I have run it twice, 2004 and 2007 so this year it will be my 3rd and I’m going to get a Great North Run personal best…just watch me (on live BBC TV possibly). To be honest seen as I ran in ‘fancy dress’ in 2004 and paced my (now ex…maybe I was too fast! ;-)) wife to a pb in 2007 my goal shouldn’t be too hard but my aim is to go under 85 mins…not a PB but again it will be a course one.

I was honoured to be asked to write this blog post for The Running Bug in association with the #PUMApoints challenge as Team Captain for the mighty, strong finishing #TeamIgnite and they gave me the title “10 things only people who’ve run the Great North Run will understand”…wow, 8 years ago is a long time ago so I had to put my thinking cap on…here goes…

1. The ‘incredible Newcastle atmosphere’

Every time I’ve been to the home of Alan Shearer, Ant and Dec and Spuggie (ask your parents!) I have always left with a memory. It a brilliant place for stag and hen do’s and that says a lot…it’s a town that likes to celebrate so if you have the time to go on a night out after the race then do it. I had an epic night out after one of my two races up there where I recall helping sports broadcaster Ray Stubbs back onto his bar stool after one to many Newcastle Brown Ales!!!

2. People wear less on a Saturday night out than you do to run the race on the Sunday morning’

It’s true, people in the North East don’t own jackets! I remember chatting to a woman once who worked for Top Shop (and this is true) whose job it was to make sure everything in her area of shops was put in the correct place and she told me that the jackets on sale were always put at the back in the Newcastle branch!

3. Run the same route with some of the world’s greatest runners

The race itself attracts many people to the North East including some legends of the sport so number 3  is you get to ‘Run the same route with some of the world’s greatest runners’. Paula Radcliffe, Haile Gebrselassie, Sonia O’Sullivan, Moses Tanui, Liz McColgan and coming back this year again is Mo Farah. Meeting Paula and Liz was a huge highlight for me in 2007 and I remember using the portaloo after Sonia that year too…her ‘speed’ never rubbed off on me though! 😉

4. London marathon atmosphere with half the distance

As I said it attracts thousands of participants as well as spectators every year so you get the ‘London marathon atmosphere with half the distance’. It’s true that the London marathon has an atmosphere like no other within our shores but if you want ‘that’ buzz but only want to run for 13.1 miles then the ‘GNR’ is for you. Another bonus is the spectators only have to 13.1 miles to see you so the crowds cheer you on all the way along the route.

5.  You run the risk of being given a laxative!

The crowds are extremely supportive and are on hand to offer you jelly babies, oranges, brown ale but you do ‘run the risk of being given a laxative!’ Now this may be all lies but I have heard that some of the cheeky northern ‘scallywags’ have been known to hand out substances that help “loosen stools and increase bowel movements”. One thing that most runners do not struggle with whilst running is constipation…however this may be a nasty rumour and the fact that I have put this in this blog post may carry this ‘urban myth’ on for a bit longer. Take anything from a spectator at your own risk…parp! 😉

6. Celeb spotting

I’ve already name dropped a few times but it’s also a great race for a bit of ‘Celebrity Spotting’ as many famous faces use this event to fundraise for some big charities that are close to their heart. In 2004, I ran the race in my RAF Falcons parachuting kit (as I did for the 2004 London marathon) and vowed to collect as much money for charity as possible…bad idea. The bucket was so heavy that I struggled to walk more than 10 metres at one point without putting it down. Gordon Ramsay came out as I crossed the finish line to help me with the bucket and said “F*****g hell…how did you manage to carry that?!” Then went into the VIP area and handed my bucket to loads of others to lift…I recall that my finish time was something like 3 hours 5 minutes that day and I raised well over £500 for Muscular Dystrophy Campaign in memory of an RAF Falcons colleague’s brother.

7. You could be a star in your own right

How many races do you do where you can have your friends and family or you (on Sky+) see yourself running on national television? The 2015 Great North Run will be shown live on BBC from 09.30 to 1330 and highlights are on 18.00 to 19.00 later that day so there are plenty of opportunities to be interviewed or to gate-crash an interview with a celeb or fundraiser. I’ve still not managed this however I was fortunate enough to be asked to be the ‘warm-up’ guy for the junior races due to my work in 2006 on Blue Peter in training presenter Zoe Salmon for the 2006 London marathon. I was hoisted up on a crane 20 foot above loads of eager kids and being told “not to jump around” as the crane wobbled!!!

8. You get to see an amazing part of the UK

To a lot of people it’s quite a distance to get to Newcastle and in a way it may seem ‘like you’re running in a foreign country’. When people have to travel far they usually make a big weekend out of it and Newcastle know this and lay on events on the Saturday in the way of kids races and the Great North City Games sometimes runners and spectators take the Monday off work to enjoy the atmosphere at the famous ‘Bigg Market’. Now if the laxative story hasn’t already got the Geordie’s against me then this might but their accent is very hard to understand. I would argue though that it’s the best in the UK and is awesome. I hope they are proud of that, to minimise the risk of offending them but I could and have listened to Geordies chatting for ages. Just be aware there is a huge difference between a ‘Mackem’ and a Geordie!

9. The finishing straight is epic

Along the route you are greeted by friendly supporters (make sure to put your name on your vest for personalised support) and many bands to help create an unforgettable atmosphere. Towards the end of the course, you have a gradual hill, leading to an amazing view of the sea at South Shields. From there you have an appreciated downhill before turning left and running the final mile along the along the seafront where the crowds get louder and louder the closer you get to the finish line and being rewarded with that awesome piece of bling

10. The highlights are unforgettable

The Great North Run brings many, many reasons for you to make it your first half marathon or to add it to the collection but one of the highlights is undoubtedly the world-famous Red Arrows and their fly past of the Tyne Bridge. Some lucky runners are on the bridge as the red hawk aircraft fly overhead which must be one for the bucket list. But no matter where you are you will either see them at some point or most definitely hear them entertaining the loyal supporters cheering you on through every inch of the 13.1 miles of the world’s leading half marathon.

 

JS45711507

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1 thought on “10 things only people who’ve run the great north run will understand

  1. Good Luck Son !!!

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