An Eyeful of Purple
Pam Kirkup …
This was to be my first real race for two years and I must admit I was filled with trepidation. I’ve done the GNR many times before but that seemed to make no difference, I was a bag of nerves. “Just treat it as a normal Sunday run” I was told, “relax and enjoy it!” Well, it’s a plan but that’s not how it turned out. The event was not without incident and hardly my finest hour.
So we arrived in Newcastle before 9.00am and the Purple Gang poured off the bus and onto the Central Motorway for the long wait for the start. It was a touch cool, ideal for running we thought at first, then began the recurring process of eating bananas, drinking energy drinks and queuing for the portaloos, the usual GNR ritual. Eventually we herded into our ‘pens’ – mine White, section G along with Steph Piper and 25 minutes after the main race had begun we got to the Start Gantry and we were off!
My “normal Sunday run – just a jog” wasn’t happening at first. I reached the 2 mile point in under 20 minutes which I knew I couldn’t sustain for the whole course but more to the point it was starting to get quite hot and I was overheating. So a gentle jog and lots to drink and I got to Heworth in the certain knowledge that, whoever had won the race would have gone through the finish, had a shower and be on to his first pint by now. A humbling thought!
Feeling reasonably ok I trundled on down the A194 until I encountered ‘Barging Brute no. 1’! Determined to get through, he knocked me flying without a second thought and I landed mostly on grass verge but managed to graze my elbow on the kerb. This was not too far from the left hand turn at White Mare Pool and the feeding station where there were some St John’s Ambulance people. They cleaned me up and off I went in the direction of the dreaded hill on the John Reid Road up to the Crematorium. This has always been a bad patch for me and this year was no different. By now it was really hot and I was struggling. I began to wish I’d just written off the £104 this race cost me, or as Allan Seheult put it, £8 per mile! Still the thought of the Strider supporters with their jelly babies at the 10 mile mark spurred me on.
However, just approaching 10 miles I came across ‘Barging Brute No 2’. I was running next to a woman who simply stopped dead and this bloke veered towards me and took me out. This time I hit the tarmac. Hard. I banged my forehead on the road which caused 2 cuts – one on my hairline and one on my right eye brow – and a nasty lump on my forehead. It hurt quite a lot. Thankfully this was close to a St John’s tent and they saw what happened. They set about cleaning up my face – the 2 cuts were bleeding quite a bit – and they checked out the bruises around my right eye. “You’re going to have some black eye tomorrow” they said. (Ain’t that the truth!!) They asked if I felt dizzy or sick; did I have double vision or a headache and did I want to drop out? Other than blood trickling down my face from a rather ineffective plaster I felt ok and with 3 miles to go, of course I’m going to finish!! So armed with gauze pads to mop up the blood I set off again but very gently at first. The main First Aider told me that if you raise your heart rate any cut would bleed more quickly. Seemed to be true!
A few minutes later I reached the Striders supporters and Phil said “Bloody Hell has someone beaten you up?” He then took a photo!
The last 3 miles were slow and uncomfortable. Lots of kind people asked me if I was ok when they saw the state of my face. Eventually I reached the Front at South Shields and the last mile. My finishing time was dreadful – my worst ever, but I didn’t care. I’d got round.
At the finish I was collared by yet another first aider – British Red cross this time. He insisted that I go to their ‘field hospital’ and once again cleaned me up. The plaster was removed and he was sure that the cuts would stop bleeding soon. They didn’t! Thankfully I was given more gauze pads to mop my face and eventually I got to the Look Out pub and a well-earned drink with everyone. The landlady gave me a catering blue plaster for the worse of the 2 cuts and eventually, the bleeding did seem to lEssen.
Has it put me off? Not at all – I wished I’d had a few more weeks of training under my belt because I think I’d have coped better with the heat and the distance. But I’ll certainly enter again and in spite of everything I actually did enjoy the day.
Woke up today with a few bruises and a massive black eye, but at least it’s in club colours!
… Peter Matthews
Here’s my story as a first timer!
After many, many years of claiming ‘anyone can do a half marathon, it’s only 2 hours!’, I finally managed to actually sign up! I thought that I had better get some training (and expert advice!), so I joined Striders soon after I had my GNR place confirmed. That was quite possibly the best move: the track sessions have been great, and helped loads in getting my pace to be just that bit quicker!
Anyhow, to the race: I was way at the back of Pen G. Everyone had warned me that the start would be slow. That was not the case: it was a fast and clear start. I might have gone just a little too hard here, but I just couldn’t resist the urge to blast my way down to the bridge! It was only at about mile 8/9 that the congestion started to build up, and then my legs didn’t quite have the fight left in them to push past the crowds quite so swiftly! I managed to lift the pace for the last mile, but coming past the coast there was nothing left in the tank!
I clocked in at 2:01:46, a shade over my 2 hour target. But then my GPS said that I had run 13.4 miles: Mo’s got it easy, that 0.3 mile would definitely have taken me more than 2 minutes!
The hardest part was getting up the hill to the Look Out pub for a well earned beer!