Great North 10K, Gateshead, Sunday, July 5, 2015

Lesley Hamill

Advertised as the ‘North East’s biggest 10K’ (and probably the most expensive!), this race is a good opportunity to experience the atmosphere of the Great North Run, which I am also doing this year. The course starts behind Gateshead International Stadium and makes its way to Gateshead Quayside, passing landmarks such as the Sage, the Millennium Bridge and the BALTIC Centre.

Turning the Quayside Purple.

As this was going to be my first race since I ran the Great North Run in 1998, and also my first race as a Strider, I was feeling really excited. Thankfully Laura Gibson had lent me her vest, and once I’d figured out how to pin my number on using my new Event Clips (very handy!), I was good to go. My husband, Jonathan, was also running the race, and we met up with some of the other Striders taking part in front of the stadium. Also taking part in the race were over 200 Gurkha soldiers, raising money for the Nepal Earthquake Response Fund, they were quite an awesome sight!

Helen returns to racing after a 17 year breather, and as a Strider! We made our way to the start (and got filmed for the local news, which we only discovered later on!) It was hot, but the atmosphere was great and we were treated to an interesting warm up with Katie Cook, who had appeared on The Apprentice (apparently). Soon we were off, I got a bit carried away and ran the first 2k at my parkrun pace, which I soon realised I couldn’t sustain, especially in the heat! Once on the Quayside it was brilliant to see the much faster Striders on their way back. It was at this point that I was pleased to be wearing my Striders’ vest, as the waves and shouts really kept me going. I was relieved to reach the turnaround point, especially as I knew the fire brigade was just round the corner with a big hose!

After a refreshing shower it was great to bump into another friend who was running, and to cheer on some other Striders on the other side. I had lost hubby at this point (sorry Jonathan!), it was really hot, but I felt good, and knew my target of sub 60 minutes was achievable. The hill at 9K was a bit of a surprise, but the sign at the bottom saying ‘Smile!’ and ‘Local Hero’ blasting out from the speakers definitely helped me up it! The last 1K seemed to go on forever, but the excitement of the stadium finish kept me going. Hearing the hundreds of spectators cheering everyone in at the end was amazing; I even managed a sprint finish!

I was delighted with my time of 55.54, a 10K PB in my first race as a Strider, and am now even more excited about the Great North Run in September!

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