Great North Run 2018
A full weekend of events, with an opportunity Saturday to watch the Citygames, seeing Greg Rutherford jump his last ever long jump and Jonny Peacock make his return to sprinting. Inspired by the junior 5k that ran along the Tyne and enjoyed the buzzing atmosphere of the ‘pasta party’ and expo area. Managed to hold back from spending too much on GNR merchandise as lovely as it was! Plenty of picture opportunities on the iconic Tyne bridge and working out where to situate supporters for the start ahead of the big event. All so worth doing to get a real feel for the friendly support and inclusiveness of the Great North Run.
We collected local friends who were running their 4th GNR and met up with Donna & Ian to travel into Newcastle. With the local knowledge we managed to park easily, 0.5 mile from the start, so we could join the masses of people wandering through the streets to the town moor and starting pens on the dual carriageway.
Having said goodbye to our supporters Tim, Ian & Carol (so they could get to their vantage point just over the Tyne bridge) we walked another half mile from the start line towards our pens, spotting Lee and Jack in their Jags tops along the way, amazing considering the volume of people. I had planned to run with Sharon’s sister, Lynda, but despite our prior planning for meeting up at the start, we managed to miss each other. The toilet queues were never ending, with many opting for the outside option (so much easier for the men!)
Despite arriving in Newcastle a good couple of hours ahead of the starting time, the waiting time just disappeared. Donna and I said our good byes and good lucks half way along the pens as we were starting in different areas. There was plenty of water in constant supply and space to stretch alongside the pens, but once in the waiting pens the space soon disappeared. The mass warm up was great to be a part of, but limited space to do properly.
The big screens allowed us to see the start of the race, with the wheelchair athletes and elite ladies leading the way, followed by Mo and the elite men, the masses then began to move forward. The red arrows roared overhead as we neared the start-line and still people ducking out for the last minute toilet stop! 35mins after the race had started I crossed the start line and started my run, (Mo was only 24 mins from the finish line by then!)
The Run itself
The volume of people around was not going to allow a pb even if I was hoping for one, I wasn’t setting myself any targets except to enjoy the whole experience and that is exactly what I did. The support was amazing from the off, people lining the verges, central reservations and the bridges above.
No chance of starting too fast, so took it easy with plenty of high fives and joining in the oggies and singing in the underpasses. (I chose to stay left so could follow the underpass route, on the advice from seasoned GNR friends). Before long I was out of the tunnel and heading for the Tyne bridge around a mile and half. Soon spotted Tim & co. having passed over the bridge, more high fives and then tried to find a line to pick up the pace a little. Many runners appeared to stop having crossed the bridge, so a fair bit of dodging about to try and get some running rhythm. I didn’t notice the hill between Tyne bridge and Felling bypass and soon spotted the Gateshead stadium. The most comfortable first three miles of a run I have done in a while! Distracted by the encouraging crowds, live music and trying to dodge other runners, Mr Bump, firemen & numerous unicorns! Soon caught up with a 2hrs 15 min pacer so was feeling good. Time for a haribo or two (other confectory was also in constant supply, along with ice pops, brownies, orange segments and much more!)
At Heworth around the 5k mark there was another incline due, but this came and went with the steel band entertaining and plenty more high fives. Had to remember not to high five the St Johns teams as they were offering large dollops of vaseline on their gloved hands!
Managed to pass two 2hrs 10 pacers before the 10k mark and around this point the two lines of runners combined, where the dual carriage way merged. Running slowed as the road became more congested. At the six/ seven mile point we came to a mass stop, for no apparent reason but sheer volume of runners. Short opportunity to take on more water and take in the enormity of this race.
John Reid road leads all the way down to South Shields and to the sea. Despite a short shower of rain as we started, the clouds had cleared and pure blue skies above meant the temperature increased with the distance. The constant water stops, road side showers and ice pops were much appreciated. I’ve never eaten & drank so much in a race! With the increase in temperature, volume of runners and queuing for an opportunity to pass through the showers my pace slowed, I seemed to be playing cat & mouse with the third 2hrs 10 pacer!
Miles 10 – 13.2
Only a park run to go! Loved the live music and motivation stations, even Elvis made an appearance in the centre of the road as runners filtered either side of the roundabouts. Started to keep an eye out for my support team around 12 miles and wasn’t disappointed as they appeared to my left just as I was about to switch sides again! A real boast for the final mile and slight uphill before spotting the sea. What a beautiful sight, as then headed downhill with a little space to stretch the legs and then turning left along South Shields sea front. I’d finally managed to stay ahead of the 2hrs 10 pacer!
Mo had won the men’s race, the crowds were louder and larger and any space to increase the pace in the final mile was nonexistent, so time to enjoy the final moments of this iconic race. The four finish lanes were finally in sight and the clock was reading 13:14, a finish time of 2:08:00 and arrived just in time for the full Red arrows display, which started as I collected my medal, what a fantastic way to end to my run.
Wasn’t a race for PB’s, a potentially frustrating run if you go with a target time in mind. A run, not a race, to enjoy being a part of, for the fun and full experience of the Great North run. The niggles and injuries that had hampered training were forgotten as I was carried along by the amazing crowds out in force all along the route. Surrounded by inspiring runners, most running for a charity or in memory of a loved one. So much money raised for so many valuable charities, an experience truly worth travelling up North for. Fab Medal, T-shirt and goody bag a bonus!
An amazing well done to Donna Monk on completing her first half marathon, a privilege to share the experience with her and Ian in support, along with Tim. Brilliant finish times for Lee Emmett and Jack Stuttle, well done everyone.
If you’re thinking about giving it a go, get your name in the ballot January or run for a charit