My Great North Run story

This is a sewing deficient post, in fact there is bare reference to sewing, so if you tune in for snips & stitches hold on !  More sewing exploits will be to follow next….

Hello !

Thank you all, each and everyone of you who left such kind encouragement on my last post in anticipation of the Great North Run.  I haven’t replied to your comments individually as I was away & off-line, but THANK YOU!  It was a *great* run.  And I can tell by the comments that it is held dear by many of you as a special run too.

I thought I’d share my Great North Run tale  & some of the pics – just in case you’re interested.  Afterall I’ve had about a week off blogging & I need to stretch my blogging muscles after their seizure…

Great North Run bridges in NewcastleYou may not have known that the plan was hatched amongst some of my friends from university to enter the Great North Run – there was inevitably alcohol involved!  Two of my friends live near Newcastle so the connection was already there.  I hadn’t appreciated that it involved a public ballot to get a place, (& it may have even started in January!) but somehow, I was successful upon my first year of entry – & so was my friend!  And then I ran my best ever Bath Half Marathon (March) & it felt right that the Great North would be my next goal 6 months later.

And then I entered my first (& unlikely to be repeated, but no definites until after the actual event)  marathon & the Great North became part of my training.  “Part of your training?” I hear you say?  How can the largest half marathon in the UK be relegated to “part of your training”?  Well, it did, such is the enormity of the challenge for a newbie minimalist marathon runner-to-be.  Peeps, suffice to say I have been reduced to a (non flesh eating) zombie, such are my current energy levels – but that’s for another time.

Anyway, the prospect of running in the Great North appeared to me to be a “treat”, a welcome relief from the ridiculously long marathon training runs.  Plus I was on a mini break up to Newcastle to stay with friends – a long weekend, going somewhere new.

GNR bridgesNewcastle bridges- it was buzzing with athletic activity.

Have you ever arrived at the airport during the ski season to be greeted by swathes of brightly coloured eider-stuffed jackets & unfeasibly long & thin ski luggage? Does it get your heart going?  Do you feel the buzz?  Of course it’s much better if you are one of those jetting off to the powder, to be part of a movement, a short migration of sorts to all share a common activity amongst the mountains.  Well, I wasn’t prepared for a similar experience on my easyjet flight to Newcastle from Bristol.  I am certain that 95% of the passengers were lean, fit runners, all taking the one hour flight to take part in the Great North Run.  We all carried our race numbers, safety pins & lycra in our luggage.  We were all topping up our hydration levels, & there were plenty of single travellers focused on a singular running goal…I loved that!

Reverse BGNR logoWhen I arrived, I looked up & saw the Great North Run logo – in reverse & was so excited!!

Anyway, Newcastle & the race itself.  I arrived during the junior Great North Run as my friend’s daughter was running – I therefore got to see Newcastle in full flow a day before my race: the logo on the Tyne Bridge, the City games, the view from the Baltic over Quayside & cheering the junior runners.  A great teaser for the next day.  And then I got to see the North Sea in September sunlight, walked on the beach.  Wow, I almost fell in love with another coast….imagining it in all weathers, particularly its bleakness in the gales…

whitley bay But onto the race.  All the weather forecasts were appalling, predicting rain & gales.  Over half of my luggage was sportswear – taken up with running & keep warm options because I really did not know what to wear (“oh what shall I wear”).  It was my biggest conundrum, what to wear, because get it wrong & the 13 miles would elevate the challenge needlessly…. however come the morning & ignoring the Gore-tex clad TV reporter on location at the start, I took faith that I’d be sheltered by the numbers of other runners, would keep warm by running anyway  & that it would be a “tail wind”…

Travelling into the city was another example of being part of something huge, another movement, as we passed runners travelling to join the race.  It’s a bit like the Saturdays when Bath are playing at home & you see everyone drawn to the city wearing their Bath shirts, lured, magnetised, all congregating in one place.  But this was an easy game of “spot the runner” at bus stops.

GNRun 2013So what else to say about the race?  I’ve run a few of the runs in the Bupa “Great “ series now & they do a great job at organising the events, & as they are on such a large scale are also full of atmosphere.  Waiting in the start pens for the start amongst other runners & laughing as the warm up guru leads us to follow his moves, catching cheesy songs to motivate (such as “Don’t Stop me Now” & “Living on a Prayer”) are actually a part of the experience I love.  There’s a tension in waiting.  Hey, this was the largest race I’d ever been in.   It was also high profile with some big names taking part in the elite races.  AND it was on the TV.  AND I can’t believe it – people I knew were watching it hoping to catch sight of my diminutive form within the 55,000 runners!!

Great North Run 2013I feel a little disloyal to say that the runners were more friendly up North, as part of that is my fault & how I project myself.  But I had more chats with others- even a fireman at about mile 8 until I let him peel away from me as I dropped the pace a little.  There was lots of runner participation under the bridges to join in with the calls for  “oggy oggy oggy” .  The route was lined its whole length with supporters who were offering oranges, jelly babies, even small quoffs of beer (within 2 miles of the finish!)  And the Red Arrows?  I was so excited when they flew over at the start & then performed an awesome display over the sea after I’d finished….can’t beat the Red Arrows in my book.  Oh yes, my time!  I wasn’t chasing a time as such because my general speed has slowed down to the marathon shuffle (!) however, as always I got taken along by the crowds at the beginning & kept quite a reasonable speed going.  I came in at my second fastest time for a Half, just 3 mins slower than my PB which isn’t bad considering I was out to “enjoy the run”,  the crowds running – the difficulty in passing particularly in the last mile (even if I wanted to!) and my marathon waddle.

Great North medalNow the rain didn’t hold back when the throngs were walking back to their chosen transport home.  There was a veritable deluge of biblical proportions as we squelched our way to the ferry through Southshields.  But, hey ho.

I’d do it again.  Next time I hope my friend will not be injured & we can run together.

Now, do I have the energy to get some sewing done as a quiet Saturday treat?  I think so …have a great weekend everyone xx


38 thoughts on “My Great North Run story

  1. Taracat

    I am so in awe of you running people! I used to run but only round the park and only if I was training for something else, and even those short runs used to kill me. I wish I could do it properly but I just don’t have the patience to keep going until I reach the point where it becomes enjoyable. You are a better woman than I am 🙂

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Wow, you called me “one of those running people”!!! I somehow don’t seem to think of myself like that! Thank you 🙂
      I have to say it took me such a long time before it was enjoyable, but I held out, let the habit slide, picked it up again numerous times until I am nearer that place. It’s so good to enjoy the majority of my runs these days (never used to!!!)

  2. Jane

    Well done, Winnie! Good to hear all about it. I did my first parkrun today, 10 weeks into running. My aim is to run the whole thing next week…

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Hi Jane
      I hope you’re on track now for running it all in one go. Well done you!! Park Runs are such a good idea. I wish I was closer to one. Maybe it’s something to look out for in the autumn…

  3. Retrowren

    Well done, well done! I’ve so bee waiting to hear how it went and I’m so pleased you had a great time and the rain stayed off till later!

    Enjoy your sewing sweet lady. 🙂


    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Thanks Retrowren! Very kind of you & yes, whilst there was a bit of rain while I was running it was nothing compared to the downpour later. i was very glad I have more clothes & waterproofs to wear!!

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Thanks Debbie, it’s actually proving a great excuse for weekends away…entering races. Not quite international, but seeing different parts of the country has been fun with this race lark!!

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Yay!! It was a cool race, definitely. And if it was only a training run, I wouldn’t have got carried away at the start (like I always do in races!) Therefore it must have been a race!!

  4. Clare Szabo

    Ahhhh well done Winnie! That must have been another amazing running experience. I run too, but I am a mere beginner really and would love to reach this standard one day. Inspiring post! xx

  5. Kim

    Well done Winnie!
    I am glad the North was good to you. I was brought up in Northumberland (though I live in the Midlands now) and can confirm that the coast can be very wild in storms – but still gorgeous!
    After a summer with a ‘gammy knee’ I am hoping to get back to Park Run very soon. I had hoped to be running the Ealing Half this Sunday but will just be supporting my daughter instead.
    Enjoy your relaxing sewing 🙂

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Good luck with your recovery – & getting back into Park Runs. It must be so frustrating having to miss out. I’d get so worried since building a running habit is super hard for me!! My biggest challenge…
      I would love to see the wild North Sea coast, definitely …

  6. LinB

    Hurray! Sounds as if you had a wonderful time away. I would guess that an actual gale in Newcastle is not quite so romantic as you imagine, lol.

  7. Nicki

    Think you must have been high on endorphins or something if you nearly fell in love with the North Sea (I’m allowed to say that as I was raised on trips to the east coast seaside!) Well done, great photos of you looking radiant. Totally agree, the Red Arrows ROCK!

  8. theperfectnose

    Look at you go in your pretty skirt! Good on you for getting out there and kickin’ it. Be sure to get a good pair of new shoes though-the older the shoes the more likely the injuries XP

    1. scruffybadgertime Post author

      Thanks for that – yes, I do have some shiny new trainers but they are too uncomfy to risk for the longer runs! They need wearing in. I shall be pleased to junk my current pair after the marathon.


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