Sunday 8th September was the 39th Great North Run and number 4 for me. Since Gayle and I started running the GNR, we have looked forward to it each year. After running it for our first year, we were offered and took out a membership so that we were guaranteed a place for the next three years, this year was our last one.
On previous years, the day before the main event, Newcastle Quayside would be awash with spectators not only watching the mini GNR, the mile run and the 5k, but also the Great City Games. The atmosphere was amazing and the city was buzzing. The games also coincided with a Pasta Party where you could get those last-minute carbs onboard. This year, the Great City Games and the Pasta Party were both missing!
The Great City Games had been relocated to Stockton, which is probably about an hours drive south of Newcastle. Both Gayle and I love to go and watch these games, but having driven past Stockton the day before on our way to Newcastle, we were not about to drive an hour south again the day before the GNR to watch them. A lot of people that I had spoken with were of the same opinion and like us were pretty cheesed off that we only found out two weeks before the event. We had booked our hotel specifically so that we were there to see the games!
I think the pasta company that had previously sponsored the pasta party had pulled out of this year meaning that the party had been cancelled. There were a few stalls on the Gateshead side, but to be honest it was all a bit flat.
The day of the event was the same hectic experience of dropping off your bag at the baggage bus, queuing for the loo and then trying to get to the starting pen. With 57,000 people trying to do the same, it makes for an interesting experience, but fun experience.
I think because the atmosphere wasn’t there on the previous day, I think this had a little bit of an impact on the feel of the GNR. There didn’t seem to be the usual sparkle to the event. Even the red arrows didn’t do their customary play past and display because they are currently on tour in North America. Apart from in Newcastle and towards the end of the race, there didn’t seem to be as many spectators on the route.
So how was my race? As you can see from my time, it wasn’t a good one. My ITB started playing up not long into the race and my hip was feeling really tight! This slowed me down a lot, considering I PB’d a half marathon in March, I was around 20 minutes behind the time when I finished. Also, along the seafront, I had to take a walking break, I got one almighty stitch in my right-hand side that I couldn’t shake off, even using stomach breathing wouldn’t get rid of it.
So I finished the race with a time of 2:43:09!!!! Not great, but I managed to get over the finish line I basically one piece!
The question I was asking myself when we had finished was should I renew my membership for another three years or should I call it quits? After a lot of thought, both Gayle and I have decided to renew again for another three years. Next year is the 40th anniversary of the race and it would be such a shame to pass on the opportunity to run in such an iconic race on an important milestone.
So Great North Run, we will see you next year!!!!