Great North Run Race Report, No. 2

Newbie to the TBH family Felicity Watson offers her views on the magnificent turnout, complementing that stalwart Stuart’s report

Before I started this race I asked Mr Kenny Mac whether I could begin the report with the line “I would like to forget the pain of…” Needless to say this was encouraged with some enthusiasm. So here we go.

I would like to forget the pain of…ok that’s got the first bit out of the way, now onto the race report.  At the last count 84 no wait, thanks Douglas Tickner, 85 TBH runners took part, so you could say we were a force to be reckoned with.

For a first time runner of the GNR I would sum it up briefly as “uphill” so this is where thanks is due to the hill sessions that put us through our paces in the week leading up to the GNR. I hadn’t understood the importance of this until today when walking downstairs has left me feeling weak. The one downhill part of the race coming up to the final mile was like a splash of water to my thighs as they came back to life again. I of course was pre-warned about The Hill so thank you to Steve Allerdyce for preparing me and diminishing the shock somewhat. There is some comfort in seeing the sea of runners wave over the road ahead of you and knowing that the downhill, otherwise known as the Vaguely Flat, parts of the GNR are just ahead.

The enclosure at the beginning, as to be expected, left me feeling like a caged animal, so when the gates were released it was reassuring to know that the rest of the GNR population also felt this way with a good hardy start. I began with some gusto that was perhaps a little over enthusiastic, with chants of “Oggie Oggie Oggie!” (please fill in the chant here) under every bridge, of which there seemed many at the start. Then to the Tyne Bridge where many family and friends were stationed, so clearly I wasn’t going to slow down then. It was really when I got to mile 3 and thought back to the Jelly T and realised I had a whole race to go before I finished that I decided to put the breaks on slightly to let there be some juice left for the last few miles; more of which later.

It was in the middle of the race that I spotted none other than Lizzie Clamp who very nicely said I was “looking strong”, to which I replied with an exhale that produced no words as my brain to mouth reflex had given up. She weaved in and out like a proverbial plait for a couple of miles before disappearing into the vastness of runners, not to be seen again and from what I hear she did a very strong performance of 1:51:26. I then met and made friends with another TBH runner who I believe is Elspeth Lawson, who also put in a fantastic time of 1:50:17. She spotted my shirt and connections were made, the simple brilliance of identification.

At this point I am still going uphill. So when I get to about mile 7 I am already inwardly celebrating as I am over half way. To the left of me is a monkey and to the right is Scooby Doo, and in front is a man with no shoes on. So to say the runners were varied is putting it mildly. I think it was about mile 7 where the rain started to really lay in, however with the winds for the most part behind us, this wasn’t too much of a hardship. The rain, promised to be so terrible, which had indeed forced me to wear a binbag to the start of the race, proved to be pretty insignificant. Any rain that did appear was more of an aid rather than a hindrance, quenching any thirst pockets on the skin. Talking of which, I casually assaulted one of the lovely ladies handing out water, so for this I apologise, it was in the heat of the moment!

The bands on the way round really made a difference to the atmosphere of the day and listening to Katy Perry’s “Hear Me Roar” was as motivational as it was repetitive. The real thanks should go to the crowds that lined the streets and cheered us along. I know for sure that the jelly babies, that were so hard to eat, gave me the final energy I needed to complete the race.

The Vaseline was more confusing. Sorry lads, I didn’t understand your pain. It was only once I had finished the race that I was told what that ‘strange looking gunk’ was, and was mildly mortified that at one point I had considered putting my hand out to eat some thinking it some sort of food substitute. That’s embarrassing let’s move on. And on. To the last few miles, yeay we’re almost there! Anyone else feel like crying – happiness/pain/relief?

My legs seemed to give up slightly at mile 10 and a swarm of people started to overtake me. For most of the race I had been annoyed at those people who got in the way, and then I felt myself become one of those people. The view of the coast though really gave me a lift as we rounded the corner to the final part along the sea front. This is also where my blessed downhill part took place. When I look back to GNR 2013 it is this part that I will return to over and over like Memento and relive it with the pleasure of having just experienced it. So then the final part. Drum roll please. Oh no wait, that’s premature because there is still 800 metres to go. 800 METRES. That’s nearly a km and a bit of a stomp on my heart. It was only when I saw the finish line in full that the crowds of people cheering us on came into focus and I was ecstatically happy to be part of the race and representing TBH.

It has to be said that I was for some unknown reason put in zone B which I believe was due to some rush of blood to the head, but not pursued as I shrank back from the opportunity. But for those of our runners who did start in zones A and B a very impressive performance was given by all. In particular a mention must go out to Kevin Jeffress, Shaun Brown, Gary Jones and Ian Jackman, who almost set off speed cameras and completed it under 1hr 20 minutes. And then our fastest girl Sophie Marr ran at breakneck speed to run the GNR in 1:26:45 followed shortly by birthday girl Kym Eden who ran it in 1:30:34. There were also some huge PBs attained. In particular, Claire Norman knocked 34 minutes off her time from 2010, and Scott Wilkinson who smashed his PB by 32 minutes.

The post-race pint, organised by Kym Eden, had a great turnout and I think, despite my shaky legs, was my favourite part of the day. The sun came out as did runners who had battled their way home on the metro, with the rather un-wonderful DJs who entertained the crowd by trying to make them dance Gangnam style. There were injuries, sores and gripes, but mainly there were very happy faces celebrating, as the sun set, the GNR 2013.

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    • katie on 16th September 2013 at 21:16
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    I love this report Flick. I laughed out loud at the Vaseline :p

    • kenny mac on 16th September 2013 at 21:38
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    Well done Felicity. Great report. Keep them coming

  1. Great report Felicity and well done on a great run too.

    • Stu Dickson on 17th September 2013 at 16:21
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    Great report Felicity and well done on your first GNR, sure it will be the first of many!

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