Category Archives: Great North Run

A timeless marmite classic. Whether you love it or hate it, or more likely, both, it’s part of Striders history. Whether you’re an ever-present or a first-timer, everyone should know how it feels to hear the thunder of the red arrows overhead as they cross the Tyne Bridge.

Great North Run 2021, Sunday, September 12, 2021

The 40th running of the Great North Run took place on 12th September 2021, after a year’s absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The race was run on a revised course, for one year only, as an out and back route, crossing the Tyne Bridge twice and passing through the city centre before finishing next to the Town Moor.

As usual, many Striders took part in the race. Their results can be found at the bottom of this report. Here are some Striders’ recollections of the race.

Sarah Fawcett writes…

I think this was my tenth GNR and I smiled the whole way round, despite the entire route being uphill!

It was wonderful that the event happened after all of the uncertainty of recent months and I thought that the organisation was excellent.  Everything seemed to work really smoothly.

I, like many, will be happy to go back to South Shields next year but the advantages of yesterday’s route was that I spent most of the time looking across the carriageway to spot Striders running in the opposite direction. Also the doubling back route meant that the bands and charity cheering squads were condensed into half the normal geography and therefore were an ever present atmosphere booster.

The pizza and lager at the end were very enjoyable too. 


This from George Nicholson…

For me now there is little point in entering races anymore as age, health and injuries have slowed me up so much that even the proverbial tortoise would get to the finish line before me. The one exception of course is the Great North Run. Having done it 39 times before, not to enter is unthinkable. Just getting to the finish is my only priority, and I try not to worry about my ‘run/walk time’ . Pride obviously comes into it a bit, and I did hope to get a sub 3hour. This at least I did mange by 1 second!


The last 200m was nerve racking as I could see the clock ticking down. It was a bit distressing to be overtaken by 2 daffodils at that point, and very embarrassing as the moment was captured on BBC1 and broadcast round 127 Countries. Thank you Malcolm for also making it known on social media.

My only other concern was, would I remember to turn back around at White Mare Pool or would I turn left as usual and head off along the A194 to South Shields?

Good to see several Striders’ vests along the way, and brief shout-outs to Alan Smith and Jonathan Hamill. It was also great to exchange a few words with several ex-Striders.

Apart from the run itself, the other exciting thing for me with the GNR weekend is the annual gathering with other Ever Presents at the Sage in Gateshead on the Saturday afternoon. We always meet up for photos, compare ailments and reasons why we run slower. Naturally there is also cake to eat. For the first time Brendan Foster came along to join us and he was in quite a jovial mood.

Only sad bit for my weekend was that ‘Ever Present’ Barrie Evans was not able to make the start line, thus I am now ‘last man standing’ for Striders. Lastly I would like to thank everybody who sent me some lovely messages and words of support.

… and Marc Watson

I spoke to Allan Seheult about racing and tactics and best ways to run on a number of occasions. One of the best bits of advice he left with me was negative splits. Well Allan, my GNR today is dedicated to you. Ran a disciplined first half which allowed me to push on second half and absolutely smash my GNR PB. (Along with smashing my first half of the run with my second. 3 sub 9 minute miles in the second half too.) As soon as I looked at this chart I thought of Allan and what he gave to me as a runner. Miss his coaching dearly and so glad he left this with me.



NameClubPosFinish TimeCategory Pos
Marc ScottRichmond & Zetland Harriers101:01:221
Hellen ObiriKenya101:07:421
Stephen JacksonSunderland Harriers & AC (Elvet Striders 2nd Claim)2601:08:475
Graeme WattElvet Striders8201:15:529
Georgie HebdonElvet Striders9201:16:3662
Michael LittlewoodElvet Striders13201:18:235
Allan RenwickElvet Striders25901:22:385
Emma ThompsonElvet Striders36701:24:504
David CowellElvet Striders48101:26:4474
Bryan PottsElvet Striders49301:27:00115
Mark GriffithsElvet Striders50001:27:0651
Matthew ArcherElvet Striders67301:29:06102
Anna BasuElvet Striders84101:30:438
Corrine WhalingElvet Striders106601:32:4312
Kyle SunleyElvet Striders117801:33:36417
Paul SwinburneElvet Striders189601:38:03223
Karen ByngElvet Striders225601:39:3714
John HugillElvet Striders258501:41:12467
Louise MortonElvet Striders293301:42:3256
Nina BojadzicElvet Striders301901:42:5258
Andrew DaviesElvet Striders387901:45:40462
Simon GrahamElvet Striders486001:48:35710
Kelly GuyElvet Striders574501:50:39148
Mark FosterElvet Striders589601:51:04819
Anna GrubertElvet Striders644201:52:25187
Callum AskewElvet Striders684401:53:221860
Paul WestElvet Striders685801:53:25937
Joanne RobertsonElvet Striders687001:53:26198
Theresa Rugman-JonesElvet Striders768001:55:12128
Lisa SampleElvet Striders820801:56:24281
Jo Ann LongElvet Striders880301:57:40621
Calista IbbitsonElvet Striders946101:58:58698
Heather RaistrickElvet Striders987901:59:48118
Chris EdwardsElvet Striders989501:59:501258
Deborah JonesElvet Striders1096102:02:22233
Kirsty NelsonElvet Striders1118202:02:54351
Alan ScottElvet Striders1168002:04:09559
Jane DowsettElvet Striders1190702:04:41278
Mark HerkesElvet Striders1290602:07:092927
Steph GreenwellElvet Striders1297802:07:241135
Marc WatsonElvet Striders1332602:08:111286
Sarah FawcettElvet Striders1357902:08:47214
Jonathan HamillElvet Striders1385602:09:271135
Laura CampbellElvet Striders1500802:12:13710
Mark KearneyElvet Striders1511402:12:291721
Kirsten FenwickElvet Striders1579102:14:01784
Bob GrattonElvet Striders1585402:14:10336
Aileen ScottElvet Striders1705402:17:02574
Rachel CoyElvet Striders1740202:17:59900
Jane IvesElvet Striders1755002:18:19607
Lisa LumsdonElvet Striders1764002:18:322934
Angela WilliamsElvet Striders1868502:21:20682
Angela DixonElvet Striders1890702:21:54934
James NicholsonElvet Striders1900002:22:1550
Sophie DennisElvet Striders1944902:23:321050
Adam BentElvet Striders2038202:26:12216
Andrew ThurstonElvet Striders2061902:26:52448
Allan NicholsElvet Striders2219202:31:431487
Alan SmithElvet Striders2398902:38:3020
Kayleigh HindElvet Striders2464402:41:123006
Rachel TothElvet Striders2646602:50:391619
Margaret ThompsonElvet Striders2660802:51:2623
Alison SmithElvet Striders2695002:53:251658
Angela CowellElvet Striders2736602:56:142009
George NicholsonElvet Striders2788002:59:59115

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Great North Run, Newcastle upon Tyne, Sunday, September 8, 2019


Kirsty Nelson

Ok so how do I start my first race report? What do I put into it? Who will read it? My god the questions that went around my head at mile 18 at my first marathon in York, me writing my race report is what got me through the next 8 miles, but this isn’t that report. I never wrote it, don’t know why. Fast-forward 7 months my 2nd marathon running Windermere with my strider girls, a completely different experience, but still no report, I don’t know why. Fast-forward 4 months my first ultra-marathon, do I write about this new-found enjoyment of Hell?  …no because I still have nightmares. Fast-forward a week it’s the GNR, it’s my 5th time I know the route. Most of us do. We’ve either ran, supported, or volunteered at it. So why this one, why do I feel the need to write about this one, even write about my 5th GNR in fact. Because this wasn’t my run this was David’s.

I met David in June when I became his guide runner, David is visually impaired blind in his left eye, visually impaired in his right only seeing shapes (but not branches he hits a lot of branches, he’s quite tall and I forget to say duck!) Anyway I digress, David and I have been running together since July, not much time to train, he doesn’t like speed work, and he doesn’t like hill reps. So basically, we just went out together he would decide a route I would follow. I would tell him when there was change of surface, heights, obstructions, roads, dogs, pedestrians (they are often the worst, quite funny though either literally jumping out of your way with an embarrassed look or totally not caring that you are running tethered to a 6ft blind guy and it’s you veering off course. Sometimes I would be chatting that much that when I needed to let him know of a change, my brain would not kick in, in time and I’d often say a completely wrong word for what was coming. Any way he somehow trusted me to be his guide runner for the GNR.

8th September 2019

The day starts early, I pick David up at 6.45 to be on the bus at County hall for 7, sorry Mark but that walk to the Lookout pub was too much to bear for David after 13.1 miles. We find ourselves on the start line at 9.45, our time for leaving was 10.16(Very precise), we are at the very start I can’t believe it. Usually I’m way back in the masses I can’t even see the start line. We chatted to other Blind, VI runners and their guide runners, a couple of guys in wheelchairs, (not allowed with the elite racers not the right chairs.). well I had to ask! I asked for advice from other guides and their runners, and asked David what he wanted from the day… his reply Just to Finish… fair enough I said. Seconds later the gun went off, I honestly jumped out my skin, it was so loud. The elite woman were off, then the wheelchairs, or the other way round I can’t remember I was too excited and I was trying to stay calm for David.

Then it was our turn, there was about 20 runners and their partners around us, I knew from our training runs it was going to be a steady pace, but that was fine this wasn’t my run. The gun goes again, and we’re off. Strange feeling being at the front, the road is all you can see not masses of bobbing heads and back signs that make you cry, no fancy dress to laugh at. We soon lost sight (no pun) of the other runners and the road was literally ours, “oh my god David Mo Farah is warming up in front of us! Hey MO, see you in 40 mins” … no reply… I suppose he was in the zone. We carry on for another 100 metres and a few other elites were warming up, one clapped as we trotted past, “have a good day” he said. The first mile was bizarre no one around us except some supporters clapping and cheering David, it was like a scene from 28 Days Later at some points, we could have literally done anything, no cars, no people, a deathly silence apart from me wittering on about how weird it was, and how I needed to wee!

So we are approaching the underpass that leads to the bridge I explain to David about the people on the bridges etc., there’s not much surface changes to let him know about no kerbs to watch and at this point certainly no runners. As we start coming up to the Tyne Bridge I say to David “are you ready?” “ready for what?”, “this I say”. The roar of the crowd was so overwhelming, so loud, clapping, shouting whooping, David’s name being shouted over and over, I couldn’t help smiling from ear to ear, I looked at David and he was smiling back, the crowd was amazing all cheering for us lonely goats on the bridge, never will that moment be erased from our memories. Incredible, no words, we feel like how an elite runner must feel, but obviously not in the same head zone, they go so fast they must only hear one syllable and one clap.

Well we only had a quick wave and shout from Heather and Ian before we found out, a marshal was telling us to stay right, the front runners were on their way. I looked over my shoulder and said David its time, up went the arms and we tried to do a MO sign as he went past. It kinda worked, well no sooner were they past us then the first purple vest went past belonging to Steve Jackson, my god that guy moves quick! He was so quick I couldn’t even get his name out to cheer him on, then another purple vest then another one with a yellow hat! Well I knew that was Michael. Then a cool breeze came from behind as more and more runners came whipping past, quite a few shouting well done to David, he was so laid back just lifted his hand like the queen.

Mile 2 and the road belonged to the masses now, my real job was about to start. From mile 2 to 6 was pretty much the same a steady pace that David felt comfortable with and no stopping, I told him he can stop when he’s dead…Not the best thing to say perhaps but he laughed, the support continued throughout, runners clapping David on the back with “Well done David, park runs are working for you David, keep going, riverside parkrun well done, go on Big Lad”, if I had a £ for every well done we would have been buying a pint for the whole of striders. I’ve never felt so much appreciation, admiration and support for 1 person ever. I kept telling him, that’s for you, how does that make you feel? Brilliant he replied. I felt brilliant for him, we danced as we passed bands. We soaked up the atmosphere and we enjoyed ourselves, we mooched along as others panted by, me on so many other occasions! We walked through the middle of water stations to avoid the caps and bottles, in the end instead of saying bottle and trying to avoid them, I would just say kick! He managed 20 kicks and 5 misses! Not bad for a Vi runner…

We get to mile 8 and David is starting to feel the emotions of the day, we slow to a walking pace as we come across a band playing heavy metal, after a minute of head banging which ended up with David’s bottle being launched into the air and landing several feet away. Forgetting that I’m tethered to David, I went to retrieve it with him being dragged along… oops rookie error. We carried on, along the way we saw other striders who shouted encouragement. Happily mooching along from mile 8 to mile 12, my day was easy apart from bottles and timing mats, it was more describing people around us, the costumes, the people who lined the streets, than many obstructions, and luckily no branches. I soaked up the atmosphere the support and didn’t look at my watch once. I didn’t need to know my pace we weren’t out to win.

I see the sea, but we’ve still got a long way to go, David is tired. The crowds are still shouting his name. We hit the 400 metre mark and I ask “are you ready?”, David nodded and that was it, we started up again, nearly there I promise, he felt the change from tarmac to grass, and he started to slow, no 10 more meters …crossing the line was the most emotional thing ever. He cried I, cried, the Marshall cried, we all hugged…..I smugly smiled that he didn’t fall over at any time! We went to collect our medal I was looking for a strider, I found Wendy and I was so happy to be with David to see him receive the well-deserved medal. Unfortunately, David took a bad turn when we finished and needed a medic, after a sit down, some Lucozade we were off we had 15 minutes to get to coach. At this point I wasn’t taking no for an answer we were ducking and diving the crowds, David remained quiet.

Safely on the coach I ask David if he fancies doing it again ,” possibly /probably,” he tells me he wants to run the Kielder marathon, I reply “are you joking it’s really hilly”, “yeah but the scenery is beautiful” he replies with a wicked grin on his face, he then offers to drive the bus home. He’s feeling better.
I get home at 6pm exhausted but elated, it was David’s 3rd GNR and my 5th and it has to be without a doubt my proudest must fulfilling GNR to date.

Click here for results

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Great North Run 2018, Sunday, September 9, 2018

Pam Kirkup

Striders and Friends just off the bus

The Great North Run – And The Benefit of Hindsight

Hindsight is a wonderful thing don’t you think? And it was with the benefit of hindsight – I realised quite quickly, yesterday actually – that thinking of running the GNR was extreme folly! Let’s look at the facts – I hadn’t done a serious race since 2017, the Coniston 14 in March. Since then I did the Beer Belly run, a fun run in Consett – 5K of fancy dress mayhem on August Bank Holiday 2017, and a couple of park runs this year. I had to defer my GNR number for last year. So there I was in the late spring this year, my knees had at last started behaving themselves, so I thought, hey, I’ll start training for the GNR. After all I would have paid over £100 for the same number.

Pam's Black Eye from the 2015 GNRSo around 2 months of training commenced, basically starting from scratch. My longest run (last weekend) was 9 miles on the Waskerley Way, painfully slow. But I thought, what the Hell, I’ll get round. The plan was to start very slow, and to walk up the hills. Or to do Allan Seheult’s run 5mins walk 2mins plan. I had serious doubts all last week but I thought – what’s the worst that could happen … another black eye?? After all, it was plastered all over the walls of Howtown Outdoor Ed Centre when I was a young teacher “A quitter never wins; a winner never quits”. So no quitter, I thought just do it.

Sunday dawned and I pitched up for the bus. Arriving at the start there was the usual stampede for the toilet cubicles (with many repeat visits!). At first the weather was uncertain – rain or sun? Or both, as it turned out. Eventually, I went to my number area (green) and my ‘pen’ group (i). Kay Cairns was there along with a few new Striders. It was a long wait with rain, then sun, then more rain … and the Red Arrows. It took around 35 minutes of walking to cross the start line, mostly walking. And then we were off. I didn’t even start my watch but I realised pretty quickly that my ‘start slow’ plan wasn’t working. On the Tyne Bridge I spotted that my number/pen group were following the pace flags for 2h25 and 2h 35 – surprisingly close to each other. I was thinking about 3hours (pathetic I know!) but realistic. So I slowed down and after the Tyne Bridge walked up to the Felling Bypass. By then, Mo would approaching the last mile and a sub hour victory!

So far so good. It was warming up and I got to Heworth ok with the run/walk plan. It was when I got to Whitemare Pool that things began to unravel. I was hot and I was starting to feel achy. I thought it was the beginning of cramp. Very soon just about everything below the waist began to tighten up and ache. By then I was walking. I trotted into a St John’s Ambulance tent and explained that I thought I was cramping up and could I have a painkiller? “Oh no” they said, “ We couldn’t possibly give you Ibuprofen!”. “To protect my kidneys?” I asked. (You see I do listen Paul Evans!!). “That’s right”, they said. So they applied something topically to my legs and lower back. I have no idea what it was, there was no smell and it could well have been a placebo, but it did seem to work, for a short while. They also gave me an electrolyte drink and sent me on my way. By the time I got to the John Reid Road and around 8 miles I was struggling. My legs really hurt and running was just so painful. So walking and the odd period of jogging ensued for the rest of the way. I’d had lots of spectators shouting encouragement and calling out my name. And around 9 miles I heard “Pam Kirkup, Elvet Striders, what are you doing back here? Get a bloody move on”! I have no idea who it was but it was both flattering and encouraging but also a little bit disheartening. I knew I could do much better. By the time I got to 10 miles I began to think ‘no this is not cramp it’s just extreme muscle fatigue’. I kind of imagined my legs screaming out at me “No! Enough already! What are you playing at? We’re not prepared for this”. And if muscles could speak they would have been right. My training had been minimal and I just didn’t have the stamina or the endurance to get around without causing this level of pain and discomfort.

When I got to the horrible hill at mile 11 I looked around me and thought, ‘Yes I’ve found my level’. Nobody was running – young, old, slim, overweight – everyone was walking. And then we got to the Elvis Impersonator at the top of the hill. I didn’t actually see him but the song ‘King Creole’ was belting out. The last time I ran the GNR his song was ‘The Wonder of You’ which, in my case, would have been somewhat ironic this year!

I had hoped to run down the hill to Marsden and along the last mile to the finish but by then my legs had seriously gone. I managed a few hundred yards but then I realised I was wobbling so much that walking was the best I could do. I did think they might give way but I got to the finish and then lurched off to the baggage bus for my stuff.

I got to the pub after a very slow walk – mainly the crowds –to Bents Park and then up the hill to the Look Out. I’m not a beer drinker but I have to say, the restorative powers of a pint of lager are amazing. By the time we left the leg wobble had gone and the pain was receding.

Positives – at least I finished even though it was tempting to jump on one of the hoppers taking struggling runners to the finish; I managed to avoid the burly nutters and thugs so wasn’t pushed over and no black eye; I have recovered quite quickly – no pain today; and it hasn’t put me off. It’s just made me realise I have to do much more consistent training for such a race. Maybe I should do a few 10Ks and build up. From nothing to a half marathon like the GNR is probably foolish – with the benefit of hindsight!

11MO FARAH (Newham & Essex Beagles AC)00:59:27
47675Gareth Pritchard01:16:46
99655Michael Littlewood01:20:40
3145897Sam Renwick01:26:57
6241138Allan Renwick01:31:25
625634Mark Warner01:31:26
6935047Barrie Kirtley01:32:15
938864stuart scott01:34:28
10274843Bryan Potts01:35:06
12873317MATTHEW ARCHER01:36:57
138656649Anna Basu01:37:37
16801506Paul Swinburne01:39:18
2303478Louise Warner01:42:36
33079715Peter Hart01:46:39
33134247Louise Morton01:46:41
35226658Chris Shearsmith01:47:27
37885169Natalie Bell01:48:22
43747751David Holcroft01:50:05
440626448Lottie Middleton01:50:11
44447542Andrew Davies01:50:18
52475007Anna Seeley01:52:34
52887058Simon Marsden01:52:42
569714842Peter Matthews01:53:47
676257183Robert Gratton01:56:31
780215977Sarah Mallett01:58:56
80649312Craig Walker01:59:27
85427103Jan Panke02:00:28
86328995adam morton02:00:39
894012330Clare Wood02:01:20
900517694Angela Dixon02:01:29
93089197Trevor Chaytor02:02:09
937511633Lesley Hamill02:02:17
937611577karen byng02:02:17
103657302Robin Linton02:04:25
1099418976Ben Gary Hunt02:05:44
1139426387Kirsten Fenwick02:06:30
1152816675Sarah Fawcett02:06:46
1172012209Jane Dowsett02:07:07
1189725603Stephen Ellis02:07:27
121419299Alexander Brown02:07:56
1247214581Catherine Smith02:08:31
1253619454Letitia Ward02:08:39
1293425234Andrew Thurston02:09:17
134292224Peter Bell02:10:15
1525941780Kimberley Wilson02:13:24
1592817764John Greathead02:14:29
1658125325Faye Ward02:15:33
1674013488Rachel Boal02:15:48
1689425057lee stephenson02:16:06
1944017935Rebecca Blackwood02:20:19
1971646560Jennifer Roll02:20:46
2028939888Maria Dimova-Cookson02:21:47
2190416766Deborah Jones02:24:30
2224318345John Robson02:25:02
2238516982Adam Bent02:25:16
227678594Lee Brannan02:25:54
2301326715JAMES NICHOLSON02:26:16
2401521993Kelly Guy02:27:51
2492117092Danielle Glassey02:29:23
2498340413Alex Witty02:29:29
2531115783Wendy Littlewood02:29:58
2583517414Alan Harvey Smith02:30:58
2629513713Helen Wilkes02:31:49
2727747907Sophie Dennis02:33:32
276798001Sue Walker02:34:18
2791839401Angela Cowell02:34:43
2828126402carol holgate02:35:23
2891157943Rachel Coy02:36:34
2952727538Jane Baillie02:37:49
2998838639Louise Hughes02:38:43
3044624970David Rushton02:39:37
3046131126Christine Farnsworth02:39:38
31888302MICHAEL NICHOLSON02:42:23
3189840065karen chalkley02:42:24
3244236923Rachel Toth02:43:36
3277640184Sharon Pattison02:44:26
3289725949Joanne Porter02:44:44
3290025194Joanne Richardson02:44:44
3449659023Kathryn Hancock02:48:58
3450141083PAUL OHARA02:48:58
3573241330Jan Magee02:52:31
357378837Martin Welsh02:52:32
3735838745MARGARET THOMPSON02:57:59
3948145562Derek Isles03:07:12
3951635836Kay Cairns03:07:22
4076245510Claire Galloway03:15:27
4177539745Pamela Kirkup03:24:36
4202654172Celeste Veitch03:27:54
42115366Barrie John Evans03:29:07
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Great North Run 2016, Sunday, September 11, 2016

Aaron Gourley

By chance I happened to be checking my emails one afternoon when one popped up from Jacquie Robson that there might be places available to club members for the Great North Run on a first come first served basis. A very quick reply and I was in.

This would be my first road half marathon since the last time I ran it in 2012 so I was hoping for some sort of improvement. I put a lot of focus into speed training, turning up for Alan’s track sessions when I could but also needed to keep my weekly mileage as high as possible as I would be running the Hardmoors 60 a week after the GNR.

On race day I travelled up to Newcastle with my brother, who’d done all of a bout 5 training runs ahead of this. He was looking to just get from Newcastle to South Shields without being sick. Although there was never any danger of him beating me, I still wanted to put in a good performance over him (brotherly love and all that!).

As we travelled on the Metro to the start I explained the nuances of the course and how he should attack it – don’t charge off like a madman at the start being the main focus of my advice.

Having explained this tactic to my brother, it was down to me to take my own advice, and as the start approached it was hard not to get caught up in the atmosphere. Love it or hate it, there is a really special atmosphere generated at this race.

Once the race started I had no trouble staying at a steady pace, but found it difficult to not weave in and out of people so on occasions I found myself running at a slower pace than I would have liked. But I wasn’t worried about this, I was moving along comfortably and passing over the Tyne Bridge is always a highlight.

Then it was the tough part in my eyes – the climb up the A184 to Heworth and White Mare Pool. This takes me past my office so I know it well. I kept a steady pace and tried not to stumble on people ahead.

As I approached the halfway mark I was still running slightly slower than I would have like but still at a good pace and feeling really comfortable.

As the race progressed towards South Shields it was good to get the support of the crowds and hear the various bands playing.

Miles 10 to 12 are always tough with the steady climb towards the coast, and as I approached the top of the hill just before the roundabout I was greeted with cheers from the Waltons. They gave me a much needed boost but Graham’s shout of “Paul (Swinburne) is just ahead” gave me an incentive to push on.

As I looked up I could see Paul around 200/300 meters ahead so it was my challenge to try and wheel him in before the end. With my mind focused I hit the final mile along the coast feeling exhausted but determined to finish strongly.

The crowds are brilliant along this stretch and really help to push you on. I managed to overhaul Paul and finished with a time of 1:36:54, a good 6 minute improvement on my last outing. It wasn’t quite the 1:35 that I’d have liked but never the less I was happy and with the Hardmoors 60 the following week on my mind, I didn’t go flat out to get it.

After congratulating Paul and letting him know how he’d helped me in the final mile (he gave some excuse about cycling 60 miles the previous day!) I went of to find my wife and daughter and then waited to see if my brother would make it in. I finally spotted him at the 12 mile mark, red faced but looking focused to finish in 2hrs20mins. Not bad for a fat lad (his words).

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Great North Run 2015, Sunday, September 13, 2015

Pam Kirkup

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.

nice and early

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.

that eye is the colour of a fine wine.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!

the calm before the storm.

… 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!

a final splash of colour from the red arrows.

(Visited 71 times, 1 visits today)

Great North Run, Sunday, September 7, 2014

Louise Gregory

Experiences of a 1st timer

My running journey started in Autumn 2013, on the 7th October I completed Week 1, Day 1 of my Couch-5km App, a total of 6 minutes running (split into 1 minute intervals) over a 25 minute workout. I’d decided to follow the program myself and after staggering home the App flashed up on my phone with ‘The longest journey begins with a small step taken by a brave person’.

Striders Disembarcus

Forward 11 months and I’m very proud to say that, with the help from Striders, I completed my 1st GNR. The excitement started on the very packed Durham-Newcastle train, leaving Durham at 7.44 and whizzing through to Newcastle. We met up close to our green start zone with other members of the club and spent most of the time close to the toilets while we waited for others to queue, then join the back of the queue again, and then queue again aka. the circle of weeing. The nerves were kicking in and we just made it into the pen at 10.20, after Alison sweet-talked the security man into letting us in. The warm up began and then the Elite athletes were off. We shuffled forward 20 metres, then another 20 metres, then another 20 metres until we finally crossed the start line about 11.15. The 1st couple of miles were mainly spent trying not to go too fast as we were quickly overtaken by lots of people, being in awe of the crowds & the support, high 5-ing children and shouting ‘oggy oggy oggy’ through the tunnels. The 1st band at the roundabout below the Gateshead Highway were playing rock anthems; we both turned to each other and agreed it was the most surreal experience.

Before we knew it we were on the Felling Bypass at about Mile 4. Our pace had dropped a little but Laura and I agreed we were comfortable and happy to keep going and see how we did. By this point it was midday and there was no escape from the sun. Laura was pointing out all the places of interest and mentioned that she was known as Google Maps within Striders…I had no idea where we where but there was no worries about getting lost as the sea of people in front of us were just amazing. The climb up to 5 mile was difficult and lots of people were walking but in comparison to the hills of Durham it was a nice gentle incline. Miles 5-9 passed in a blur and I started to flag on Mile 9 but we positioned ourselves on the left coming up to Mile 10 to take advantage of the Jelly Babies promised to us by some amazing Striders. We spotted the fantastic banner and started waving like mad fools…..the feeling of support was unbelievable at a particularly tough part of the race. Good support, or what?? I’d heard the John Reid road was a hard part but for me the Prince Edward road seemed like a never-ending hill. Laura kept me going with words of encouragement but I started to wonder if I’d ever make it to the end. We met quite a few Striders en route and helped each other on. The promise of a glimpse of the sea just didn’t seem to come and a few tears were shed in feelings of defeat. But…onwards we went and the words from the crowd kept me going. Mile 12 had the best bits……a roundabout with some brilliant tunes, a gaggle of Striders on the right hand side waving and cheering at us and the ‘1 mile to go’ sign. I’d been warned that the final mile felt like forever and it certainly seemed to be at least 5 times that distance. I thought the 20km banner was actually a 20m sign and got a little bit giddy, swiftly followed by slight disappointment that the 800m banner looked so far away. But…as Laura put it….”Find your Inner Strider” (I looked long and hard and I think I found her) and 800m became 400m. At this point we could hear the announcer say that they were close to their millionth finisher….well if that didn’t put a spring in my step…I don’t know what would ! A final push meant that we finished about 10 people behind a lovely lady from Darlington called Tracy…who was the millionth runner. Laura and I crossed the finish line to ticker tape and fireworks which was brilliant…but meant we weren’t really sure what was going on as everything ground to a halt while they whisked her away. A shout from Jacqui R to ask if I was the millionth runner and a cheesy grin from Alister finished the day off nicely.

So then…..a time of 2:48:07. If I’m honest then I’d have liked a little bit faster but I’m not sure I could have given any more and it’s certainly given me a goal for my next half marathon. Advice for any 1st timers and newbies to running……they really do close the pens at 10.20, there are porta-loos in the middle of the central motorway so if you’re desperate you can pop out of your pen and pop back in, that last mile seems like forever and if you hear them talking about the being in the red zone for the two-millionth runner, go just that little bit faster.


Pos Name Club Cat CatPos Time
1 Mo Farah Newham & Essex Beagles AC 01:00:00
2 Mary Keitany 01:03:39
150 Stephen Jackson 01:19:49
380 Matthew Archer 01:25:58
449 Rob Everson 01:27:05
1261 Paul Pascoe 01:33:41
1291 Matthew Crow 01:33:49
1344 Simon Gardner 01:34:04
1419 Graeme Walton 01:34:28
1429 Terry Raine 01:34:32
1931 Katy Walton 01:37:02
2005 Elaine Bisson 01:37:23
2450 Rachel Terry 01:39:13
3302 Matthew Claydon 01:42:08
3619 Fiona Jones 01:43:12
3770 Mark Brodie 01:43:36
3910 Andrew Podmore 01:44:02
4049 Lucy Cowton 01:44:23
4888 Sarah Davies 01:46:37
5153 Michael Terry 01:47:16
5401 Nicola Whyte 01:47:50
5799 Jackie Mckenna 01:48:46
6460 Martin Welsh 01:50:12
6600 Kathryn Sygrove 01:50:29
6924 David Spence 01:51:10
6929 Paul Beal 01:51:11
6959 Helen Williams 01:51:15
7029 John Robson 01:51:25
7517 Stephanie Walker 01:52:21
7859 Greta Jones 01:53:03
8082 Dougie Nisbet 01:53:28
8614 Jean Bradley 01:54:33
10521 Camilla Lauren-Maatta 01:57:47
11670 John Greathead 01:59:32
11733 Stephanie Piper 01:59:38
13348 Brian Ford 02:02:18
13506 Sarah Fawcett 02:02:35
15598 Ann Towers 02:06:15
16197 Alex Cole 02:07:23
16264 Jill Ford 02:07:30
17918 Karen Chalkley 02:10:29
19395 Karin Younger 02:13:07
19404 George Nicholson 02:13:08
19557 Angela Tribe 02:13:22
20691 Jane Baillie 02:15:26
21800 Louise Billcliffe 02:17:26
22532 Laura Chapman 02:18:41
22628 Denise Benvin 02:18:54
22635 Victoria Walton 02:18:55
22742 Maria Dimova-Cookson 02:19:08
23082 Stacey Brannan 02:19:43
23678 Jayne Freeman 02:20:46
24504 Emma Batey 02:22:14
24757 Christine Farnsworth 02:22:42
25511 Kelly Collier 02:24:06
25927 Hattie Blenkinsop 02:24:56
26834 Karen Hooper 02:26:41
29668 Margaret Thompson 02:32:30
29949 Vicki McLean 02:33:08
30941 Amy Farquhar 02:35:22
31180 Lindsay Craig 02:35:57
31195 Natalie Johnson 02:36:00
31319 Sophie Dennis 02:36:17
31787 David Arnott 02:37:28
31794 Barrie John Evans 02:37:28
32200 Jolene Smith 02:38:26
32497 Susan Jennings 02:39:13
32503 Helen Rodgers 02:39:14
33526 Kerry Lister 02:42:03
34954 Laura Jackson 02:46:39
35272 Caroline Dostal 02:47:49
35348 Laura Gibson 02:48:07
35349 Louise Gregory 02:48:07
36555 Lynsay Wardle 02:52:49
37999 Helen Page 03:00:29

41549 finishers

(Visited 57 times, 1 visits today)

Great North Run, Sunday, September 15, 2013

Kerry Lister, Pam Kirkup, George Nicholson and Karen Chalkley

Kerry Lister …

15th September 2013, my 42nd birthday and my first Great North Run, what a way to celebrate!

Way back when the Daily Mirror Ballot for places for the GNR 2013 opened I hadn’t even ran a 5k never mind contemplated a half marathon but I entered and was shocked when I received the email saying I had a place. Because I had no concept of pacing I had put down it would take between 3-4 hours for me to complete so when my race pack arrived I was allocated Pink K – right at the back.

Over the last 4 or 5 months I have been training reasonably hard mainly by myself because of shiftwork but getting a few runs in with the Peterlee Ladies Running Club and some long runs on a Sunday morning with some Elvet Striders at Broom Park.

Trying to decide what to wear with the weather forecast being wet, cold and windy and packing my bag with warm waterproof clothing, my pre, during and after drinks and peanut butter, banana and honey bagel and gels I met the Peterlee Ladies for our bus to Newcastle. Felt like the shortest journey ever.

Arriving in Newcastle felt like joining a huge running club, there were runners of all shapes, sizes and ages all over the place. Even I couldn’t get lost getting to the baggage buses and starting pens.

We dropped our bags off on the pink bus and made our way to the pink starting pen, the queues for the loos were immense so we went ‘the natural way’ as were many others.

What an atmosphere! When the starting gun went off it took us 40 minutes to actually cross the starting line then we were off. Thankfully the rain held off until we were actually running then only lasted for a few minutes before going off again. Making sure we didn’t shoot off too quickly wasn’t a problem because we could hardly move so slow and steady away we went.

I couldn’t believe how quickly the first 2 miles went and that seemed to carry on throughout the whole event. The support from the crowds was amazing and also from the other runners – lots of ‘happy birthday’ shout outs as I went by.

My race plan had been to have a little 30 second walk every 4 mile but I got carried away with myself and ran the entire way, which I am immensely proud of. We never even registered the legendary John Reid Road climb, one of the benefits of living and training in County Durham.

Arriving in familiar South Shields territory was amazing, I am a native sand dancer, and memories of my younger days watching previous Great North Run finishes came flooding back, I would never have thought one day it would be me crossing the line with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

I really enjoyed my first Great North Run and am sure it will not be my last and definitely a birthday I won’t ever forget.

… George Nicholson …

As most of you know the Great North Run has always been very special to me.

This year certainly ranks as ‘one of the best’ . For me the build up started on the 10th August when I did my parkrunathon down in the West Midlands. Nowadays if you wish to carry out large fundraising for an event, you have to do something more than the event itself!

Then I received the exciting news that I was lucky enough to be selected in Mel C’s North Team in the JUST TEXT GIVING challenge, and we had our training day & photoshoot on August 15th at Gateshead Stadium. Mel lived up to expectations, Sporty, fit, and certainly a very nice Spice. I was thrilled to meet up with the rest of Team North. A group of truly wonderful inspirational young people. We all had our stories to tell of why we were fundraising, all of us have ‘bonded’ extremely well over the last few weeks, thanks in the main to being able to keep in touch with each other via a private closed Group on Facebook. Firm friends for life after this shared experience I am sure.

One story that does stand out is young Robyn Hadley, just turned 21, please find time to read it:

Our next meeting was at the Pasta Party in Gateshead the day of the City Games and Junior GNR’s. Again, exciting, good fun, and the chance to meet and be photographed with Celebs. With the added bonus of winning £50 for Acorns in VODAFONE official ‘Text Code ‘ Picture on their stand, it was yet another good day.

I’d been asked by BBC Radio Newcastle to send in some ‘Live Feed’ Pictures and text at the start, during the run, and at the finish. Taking pictures were not a problem, Texting and sending them without my glasses was though. So I was thrilled to be able to have my great friend Karen Chalkley alongside me to assist as my ‘Running buddy’ for the day. Karen has been such a good and loyal supporter to me for many years and she deserved her added bonus of a VIP wristband into Zone A at the start and Hospitality Tent at the finish. Little did I know though that she had a superior wristband than mine and gained access into a more Exclusive area than me! J

As for the run itself, nothing I can really add to the other reports, or in Vodafone’s Official Blog. My pictures will also hopefully give a good indication of the thrill of starting at the very front. I was disappointed not to be able to keep under 2 hours, but for me The GNR has never been a ‘time’. It’s everything else that takes place around it that makes it so special.

Team South have to prove what they can do at the Great South Run in October, but whatever they achieve TEAM NORTH can feel rightly pleased and proud of the amount we’ve raised between us all for our charities. A total of almost £18,000 so far and still rising – FAB. Thanks once again to all those who supported me and have donated to my ACORNS Fund.

… Pam Kirkup …

I’ve always liked the Great North Run, enjoyed it – even loved it. I know that in some running quarters that may suggest that I have a certifiable mental disorder. Especially when you consider the congestion, the jostling, the‘pens’ into which runners have to be herded by 10.15 … and then there is the cost of the entry. This year it was an eye watering £48!

I was really looking forward to it, although with some trepidation. I’d only been able to start training in July so preparation could have been better, but I was feeling reasonably ok about it. So did I like it this time? No not really! Did I enjoy it? No! Did I love it? …Oh please, get real! Before you stop reading – it’s not all really that negative! Although it wasn’t my usual experience.

The weather wasn’t great. The Striders’ bus arrived in Newcastle in very good time so we had at least an hour and twenty minutes to fill before the start. The predicted rain held off but it was windy and cold. After huddling up for warmth and many toilet visits, Christine & I said goodbye to Barrie and headed off to the baggage buses – White zone section G for me, F for her. I met up with Greta’s ‘9 min mile train group’ in White G. Greta was hoping to get several Striders as close to 1.57 as possible. While waiting, I learned a lot about the Medoc Wine Marathon that most of them had experienced the previous week. Sounds fab!

Anyway, I hadn’t managed to get even remotely warm since getting off the bus so kept my jacket on for the start, hoping to tie it around my waist by, say, the Tyne Bridge? Gateshead Stadium maybe? Didn’t happen.

It seemed to take longer than normal to get the start and then I said goodbye to Greta, Jacquie, Jill, Kirstie and the others – and they were the last Striders I saw before arriving in the pub! It seemed ok, running down the A167, the usual crowds cheering etc. I was still feeling cold by the Tyne Bridge and then the rain came hammering down and the wind was very blustery as we ran across. I’d hope to average 10.5 minute miles – hey, it was my first run this year! – and I was doing ok. The rain continued to be horrible down past the Gateshead Stadium and on up to Heworth … if you’ve blown it you usually know by then! Still felt reasonably ok!

The rain did ease up a bit, (well not much!) after then but the wind was still a problem! The 6 mile turn off – still ok. But by the time I got to John Reid Rd I was starting to get pain in my lower legs. That horrible hill up to the crematorium has always been a bad bit for me – well this time the cramp really started to set in. By the time I got to the Bupa Boost Zone I needed a wee (had to jump in a bush!! Never,ever had to do that before in any race!!) and some help with my cramp. A very nice young man in a St John’s Ambulance tent gave me a ‘quick rub down’ (!) and so I carried on. However, from then on I had to walk more and run less.

I must say, as I drifted further back in the field the race became more entertaining. In one of my walking/cramp moments I was overtaken by Fred Flinstone. This was a very short but very plump man, dressed in an animal print tunic and wearing a spiky yet dreadlocked wig. Next time I saw him he was sitting on a kerb hitting himself over the head with his caveman club. I can only hope it was made of cardboard … or polystyrene!

Then there was Indiana Jones who alternatively lashed out with his whip – at the crowds – or threatened them with his gun. Add to that a ‘flock’ of huge parrots who proceeded to ‘attack/ peck at’ spectators. And of course I cannot ignore the ‘swarm’ of lovely young girls dressed as butterflies, bees and wasps who raised the spirits of everyone. After the Elvis impersonator, singing “The Wonder of You”, on the way to the Marsden Inn, I had to feel almost happy! The last mile was encouraging but painful. Unfortunately I had to stop a couple of times – first time ever on the run in. I finished in 2.30.34 – my worst time ever I think – but I’ve never had cramp before in this race.

Lots of offers for “physio leg massage” at the finish but at all the tents the queues were huge. So I wandered into the Medical tent – which resembled a field hospital with camp style beds and lots of people with injuries of various levels of seriousness. Most were minor so I didn’t feel too bad about asking for help for cramp. They gave me some exercises to help and some painkillers – after they asked if I had been drinking alcohol that day or would be breast feeding!! Medical history would be made if I were to be capable of breast feeding! Eventually I arrived at the Look Out. There would be about a dozen of the bus passengers there at the time. I was greeted by Barrie, Andy’s appointed bus clippie, with “Where’ve you been? We were going to send the bus back to pick you up tomorrow!” Thanks mate, Bazza!!

I’m always amazed at the restorative powers of a pint of Stella! Pretty soon I started to feel really fine. It was a nice convivial atmosphere and it was good to talk to some newer members and other that I haven’t seen for a while.

The journey home was quicker than we all expected. So a good day for all.

Will I be doing it again next year? Well, what do you think??

… Karen Chalkley

I was looking forward to running the Great North Run again as I wanted to try and beat the 2 hours if I could, having had it allude me 3 times before. I considered running with Greta who was going to pace some other Striders so they could finish in less than 2 hours but had already decided not to when George propositioned me! Did I want to be his aide in emailing live updates to BBC Newcastle and in return I could start at the front with him. Wow, I thought, what an opportunity. It wasn’t a hard decision, of course I would. Best of all is that there are separate toilets for the front runners so no queuing!!

I had trained well (thanks to Karin and her training programme) and felt ready for the day. The night before the race however it suddenly dawned on me that I had a big responsibility in taking the photos and sending them by email on George’s phone, me, who can only just text on my own phone let alone anyone else’s, why on earth did George ask me! The morning arrived and thankfully the trepidation of my impending technological feats had disappeared. It wasn’t going to be that difficult and after all George would be there to help, I was really just going to be his eyes for the typing.

George, Anne, Karin and myself, headed off to County Hospital for the coach pick up, all of us excited, George nervous as usual. Karin, looking forward to her first GNR, was looking glamorous as usual. The weather a dull grey but thankfully not as windy as had been predicted. On to the bus we filed. George gave me my lesson in how to use his phone and I sent my first live update. George then gave me some more good news. He had managed to get me a VIP guest wristband for entry to a marquee at the end of the race too! I would be able to join him and his Justgiving Teamnorth friends for food and drink before we headed off to the pub! How lovely.

So after alighting the coach and saying our good lucks to our fellow striders George and I made our way to the front pen. Photos were taken, people arrived, including Mel C to wish her team good luck,and soon the pen was full to capacity with no room to join in the warm up. Having had a jog down to our personal loos near the start, minus any queue!, we were pleasantly warm anyway. The gun went off and 5 seconds later, yes just 5 seconds, we were over the start line and on our way to South Shields. People started to overtake on both sides as we ran along the bypass towards the Tyne Bridge. But the flow of people soon ebbed as we found our pace and we were well past the bridge and by the Gateshead Stadium when the Red Arrows did their fly over and we even had to turn back to see them! That was a first for me; I usually see them as I cross the Tyne Bridge.

After about 6 miles I gradually went ahead of George, another first for me. I was feeling good and managed to keep a good pace. I had written my name on the front of my top and what a difference it made having the supporters shout your name, which they did often, it really spurs you on. I definitely recommend that to anyone for next year. It was great seeing Louise and Pip cheering everyone on along the last stretch at the coast road. Having chatted to people along the way 13.1 miles went quite quickly and I didn’t even notice the inclines this year. Another first was not having the need to stop and walk at all. So as I turned the final corner and saw the clock on the finish line saying less than 2 hours I put on a final spurt to make sure I did beat my goal. My official time 1h 59m 28s, hooray.

To top it all I had my pass to the VIP marquee. Unbeknown to George or myself he had given me the wrong wristband and I ended up in a marquee with celebrities, having a free massage, posh food and drink before finally having to ask Mel C if she had seen George! She was most helpful and pointed me in the right direction to the marquee next door! Having found George we made our way to The Lookout to meet up with our fellow Striders who all had their own tales to tell of the race. Each one special for a different reason. What a fab day and a big thank you to George for helping to make it so special 😉

(Visited 91 times, 1 visits today)

Great North Run, Sunday, September 16, 2012

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Colin Blackburn, Pam Kirkup and George Nicholson

Colin Blackburn …

As a runner I’m happiest when I’m orienteering. At even the biggest orienteering events such as the Scottish 6-Day I can still find myself completely alone in a forest with the sounds and smells of the woodland all around me. So what was I thinking when I entered the Great North Run for the very first time way back at the start of this year. Did I think I’d enjoy being surrounded by over 40,000 people (that’s almost a third of the population of my hometown Huddersfield!). Did I think I would I enjoy the smells and sounds of the 13 miles of tarmac between Newcastle and South Shields? Eight months later, as Sunday the 16th of September dawned and I was stirring my porridge at some ungodly hour I was about to find out …

Louise and Victoria. Arriving with a coach-load of Striders near the start with almost two hours before the off it didn’t look too crowded. It was statistically unlikely but I did bump into Christine who I had met on holiday back in the summer, a 100+ parkrunner she was up doing the GNR with some friends. By 10:30 I was in a pen with a couple of thousand people I didn’t know from Adam who seemed to be throwing their clothes away into the central reservation. The Red Arrows traditional fly-over gave an impression the start was imminent but the start itself seemed fairly anticlimactic, more of a mass shuffle forward. As I shuffled forwards with the crowd each lorry parked in the central reservation seemed to be transformed into a mass urinal. Finally there was a pinch point and then I was running. I vaguely remember seeing people high-fiving Greg Rutherford but like the pre-race toilets there was a queue that you think twice about joining.

A minute or two later and I had the choice of the high road or the low road. There seemed to be a lot of last second barrier jumping to change lane but knowing no better and as I was on the left (and it was downhill) I went low and followed the underpass. The low road seemed to be the loo road! I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed so many people peeing around the start of the race. A little later with sky above my head again I realised why this race is special. I was in a concrete canyon but the tops of the cliffs were lined with hundreds people shouting, yelling and waving banners for their friends, family or loved ones running down below. And that was just a couple of hundred yards. A few months ago kittiwakes were the noisiest residents of the Tyne Bridge, today it was people cheering on the runners.

And then into Gateshead where the real entertainment started with steel bands and drumming groups every few K and most roundabouts seemingly occupied by rock bands. One band out towards South Shields was decent enough for me to have wanted to stop and have a proper listen if I hadn’t have been in a race. Oh, there was Elvis out there somewhere too but again I didn’t stop to listen as the race was always on my mind. Filling the gaps between the music were the relentless crowds and bus-full after bus-full of charity supporters. Okay, it thinned out a bit between Gateshead and South Shields but not much.

As for Striders, well from getting heading into my pen to about half way round I didn’t see a single one – despite knowing that George was carrying his torch I failed to notice passing him. Then at some point I heard a scream of “COLIN!!!” and nearly jumped out of my skin. Looking around Jan and Tony were on a patch of grass that you wouldn’t want to have to get to during rush hour. Jan was doing the screaming while Tony was taking some photos. A while late I passed Bill and then it wasn’t until the drop down to the coast that Anna passed me and I passed Jean. The final section along the coast road was great with the noisiest crowds of all. High-fiving (or should that be low-fiving?) all the little out-stretched palms seemed to make me run a little faster. The last 400m seemed longer than once round the track but I finally crossed the line taking 5 minutes off my only other half marathon in Dundee a couple of months ago.

That was the running bit over. I’ll skip the bit where I got lost finding the baggage buses and just get straight to the pub. To everyone’s surprise the Look Out had put on a spread for us. The pool table was laden with pies, pasties, sandwiches, crisps, cheese puffs… and the obligatory sausage rolls. I hope we drank enough between us to pay for it all! But it was very welcome despite plenty of people grabbing food before the pub. Getting out of South Shields was a bit of an adventure involving a bizarre discussion between our bus driver and a marshall as to whether what we were on was technically a bus. It turned out we weren’t enough like a bus to go down the “Bus Only” road and so we had to spend an hour in the sort of shuffling traffic that reminded me of the start.

Did I mention that it rained for almost the entire race? No? Well apparently it did. Definitely a race worth doing, I’d go so far as to say that for me it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

… Pam Kirkup …

This was my 19th Great North Run, the first one being 30 years ago in 1982. As my first ever race, it got me started running seriously and led me to joining my first club, Durham City Harriers, along with Jan Young.

Number-swapping? Noooooooo ... As the world’s biggest, arguably greatest, half marathon it has rightly earned the terms ‘iconic’ and ‘inspirational’. The images of the Tyne Bridge as thousands of runners pour over the river; the Red Arrows performing in perfect symmetry; the incredible feeling of seeing the coast after that harsh climb through the eleventh mile and then what seems like the longest mile in history, that run to the finish. The all-inclusive ethos of the race is impressive. Everyone from the superfit: whether it be Ethiopian and Kenyan superstars, finely honed celebrities, elite club runners or competent recreational runners down to the totally unfit and relatively unprepared; all are there mostly raising money for very personal charities and get round somehow. It’s all amazing – but does it have to cost so much? At £48 it’s considerably more expensive than London Marathon Club entrants paid this year. And if you defer your number, you have to pay the £48 all over again!

Yet on Sunday Striders filled a 50+ seater bus with mostly runners, a few supporters and race volunteers. Others made their own way there. The bus dropped us off incredibly early, so we had plenty of time to ‘mentally prepare’ for the race … which seemed to involve many trips to the loo, consuming bananas and having a go at carrying George’s Olympic torch. It was surprisingly heavy – no wonder Emma and Dougie were recruited as “torch Sherpas”! Eventually the start time grew closer so we all retired to our start ‘pens’, identified by the race number. Mine was ‘white zone G’. There I met up with Christine Farnsworth and we compared the relative inadequacies of our preparation; we would both just “get round”. Christine had “done no real training” other than “just 4 miles” at the most. After the bizarre warm-up aerobics session we began to move forward. Twenty two minutes after the gun we approached the start line … and she was off like a rocket! No real training? Hmmm!

My first impression was how hard it was actually running on tarmac! Having spent the last two and a half months training mostly on the Waskerley Way and other similar tracks and trails it felt like the soles of my feet had been beaten by bamboo sticks. Then the rain started! For me this race is such familiar territory that I know whether or not I’ve blown it pretty much by Heworth. All was well at that point but the rain was getting heavier so it wasn’t comfortable. However, it was amazing how quickly the miles seemed to pass by. My target was to finish before 2.30 and I’d tried to stay with the pacer for that time but to no avail. Without my glasses, steaming up in the rain, I couldn’t see him anyway!

As always the crowds cheering us on, the music, just the whole buzz of it all kept me going. Louise and Victoria, going really well, passed me at around 9 miles. That slight uphill bit on the John Reid Road always does for me. This year it was entirely psychological – I was reaching the furthest I had run in training. So it was starting to unravel a bit. But I soon recovered and pressed on. When I was able to put my glasses back on I realised I’d been following the 2.15 pacer! Anita passed me on the hill towards 11 miles. She was looking relaxed and comfortable. Not long to go now – it would be a breeze. Once I got to the downhill stretch to Marsden I knew it would be ok, I should finish in about 2.20. To my delight it was actually 2.16.49!

Once again I had that intense feeling of elation and achievement. The finish was extremely well managed. I met Kate McPherson who was delighted with her time and then I wandered off to the “Charity Village”. This year I am supporting Marie Curie Cancer Care – conspicuous by their absence around the course it has to be said. Never mind, they were offering every comfort in their marquee – even a “double leg massage”. There was a bit of a queue so after a cup of tea and a flapjack I left in seek of the baggage bus, but more importantly, a pint of lager! At the Look Out pub Striders were gathering, all exchanging stories of experiences around the course, times and a few PBs. It was a very happy enjoyable afternoon. The landlord had put on a buffet for us – apparently we had spent so much money on beer etc last year that he had wanted to thank us.

So was it worth it? I asked first timer (surprisingly) Colin. He had mixed views. Not too keen on the hype or “warm up” before the race – I’m with him on that one! Also some of the crowds and runners barging/ stopping dead in front of you was a bit of a problem but I think it was otherwise ok for him. He’ll no doubt tell me if I’ve got it wrong!

It has to be said that the organisation is superb. Although I’m not keen on the pens at the start. When we left the pub there was total gridlock. We were inexplicably prevented from using a road that had been closed other than as a bus lane. Weren’t we a bus? So maybe Brendan needs to rethink his transport policy.

Is it worth £48? I don’t know – for me I’d do it anyway. The price however might make it less of “the people’s race” in this day and age. 55,000 entrants would probably say otherwise. I’m totally against the £48 fee for deferrals – no wonder people pass on their numbers! Anyway, when I got home Paul said “how did you get on darling?” I replied “2.16.49”.

His response? “Well done – not bad for an OAP”!!! He may not have any teeth left!

… and George Nicholson

Another Great North Run done and dusted and I still find the ‘magic’ of the Event as exciting as ever.

Barrie & I never imagined back in 1981 when we had completed our 1st GNR that we would still be running down the same route 31 years later, and we both feel very privileged to be part of a select group of 117 runners. There is a now quite a ‘bond’ growing with all the ‘other presents’. We have our own Newsletter, T shirts, and of course special starting positions at the front of the race, and certainly since 2005 the GNR has become more than just a half-marathon to me.

The support I have had from Striders over the last few years and from many other friends has been absolutely marvellous, and each year I have tried to do something different or original that may help capture the imagination to raise the profile of the my chosen charity and thus encourage donations. As I did not fancy running with a fridge on my back for the 30 days preceding the Run, I took an easier option and decided on Olympic Torch carrying. Thankfully it was still relevant to gain press interest and I was lucky enough to have some interview requests. This aspect however is the one I find the most stressful (as Jacquie knows!) and I never find it gets any easier.

Once more I had great support from other Striders who opted to run and fundraise for Acorns. Monies are still coming in , and between Alister, Sue Gardham, Sue Jennings, Dougie, Emma, Sam Brown (former Sunderland park run director) & myself we will have topped £2500.

As for the Race itself, what can I say that’s not been said before? It’s a very familiar route to so many of us. Colin & Pam have summed it up perfectly in their reports. The excitement for me is as great as ever.

Starting in Zone A with Barrie & I were Sue J, Emma, Sam & Dougie. Thankfully I’d run the Coll half-marathon with the Torch, and I felt less anxious having familiar faces near to me. The first mile tends to be relatively quick but then soon settles down. Sam Brown left our group and moved ahead and was thrilled with her first sub 2hr half marathon. I lost sight of Sue & Emma for the first mile or so, but they soon caught me up and stopped alongside me for several more miles, thankfully did not hang back for me as I slowed and both recorded PB’s.

Dougie in particular was a tower of Strength to me at many vital points en route when I was struggling, and carried the Torch for several of the miles. He caught up with me by Gateshead Stadium and stayed with me all the way to the finish line. The one big regret I had was that we separated just after the Tag removal area. We discussed beforehand the problems that may be encountered if he was photographed with a swapped name & numbered bib pinned to his chest. I was distracted by the first TV crew encountered and then lost sight of him altogether after that. I wish that he could have been by my side at these times and had been interviewed alongside me as well. His effort on the Run was greater than mine as he was also taking photographs , and I feel he did not get the recognition he deserved.

George receives a proposalPerhaps the most surreal moment was on the startline. I had a ‘marriage’ proposal by one of the ‘celebs’ !!!!! I did suggest it would have been nicer for him to ‘propose’ to one of the gorgeous young ladies with me at that moment i.e. Emma or Sam. He was insistent however that it had to be to me and gave me a big hug afterwards. Hmmm.. Without a few minutes his picture of us all was circulated to his 8600 followers on Twitter. It turned out that he was Patrick Monahan a stand up comedian who was sending out regular tweets every mile along the route, and giving his observations of the day. We ran together for the first mile or so and parted company just before the Tyne Bridge.

So another Great North Run done and most of my objectives achieved. Nova International have already commenced their planning for the 2013 GNR. I may defer MY plans for a few more weeks yet…


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Wilson Kipsang Kenya 00:59:06
1 Tirunesh Dibaba Ethiopia F 01:07:35
836 James Garland M 01:29:32
847 Simon Gardner M 01:29:36
1056 Graeme Walton M 01:31:09
2072 Matt Claydon M 01:36:19
2110 Jonathan Ackley M 01:36:31
2665 John Wandless M 01:38:20
4344 Marco van den Bremer M 01:42:46
4431 Aaron Gourley M 01:42:58
5613 Anna Seeley F 01:45:29
6149 Colin Blackburn M 01:46:32
6225 David Spence M 01:46:43
6519 Konstantin Visegradi M 01:47:17
6850 Kathryn Sygrove F 01:47:58
6857 Elinor Rodger F 01:47:58
7496 Paul Beal M 01:49:06
9687 Jean Bradley F 01:52:50
10263 Camilla Lauren-Maatta F 01:53:45
11659 Jill Ford F 01:55:45
12662 Alan Harvey Smith M 01:57:13
13067 John Greathead M 01:57:46
13151 Sue Gardham F 01:57:53
13172 Angela Proctor F 01:57:55
13232 Greta Jones F 01:57:59
13275 Alister Robson M 01:58:02
15027 Sandra Graham F 02:00:27
17004 Sarah Tulip F 02:03:41
17122 Zsofia Nemeth F 02:03:51
17760 Emma Detchon F 02:04:51
18288 Danny Lim M 02:05:41
18764 Dawn Dunn F 02:06:25
18853 Kate Macpherson F 02:06:34
19023 Ann Towers M 02:06:50
19447 Victoria Tindale F 02:07:30
19490 Denise Mason F 02:07:36
19716 Jim Nicholson M 02:07:56
19904 Dougie Nisbet M 02:08:15
20045 George Nicholson M 02:08:29
20458 Anita Clementson F 02:09:08
21172 Louise Barrow F 02:10:16
21263 Carole Reid F 02:10:24
21370 Christine Ann Farnsworth F 02:10:36
21396 Barrie John Evans M 02:10:40
21696 Joanne Richardson F 02:11:09
21697 Joanne Porter F 02:11:09
22307 Brian Ford M 02:12:10
23221 Jacquie Robson F 02:13:43
23501 Gary Parkinson M 02:14:11
23680 Nicola van den Bremer-Hornsby F 02:14:31
24267 Margaret Thompson F 02:15:31
24992 Pamela Kirkup F 02:16:49
25183 David Thornber M 02:17:10
26074 Katie Butler F 02:18:45
26074 Robert Clark M 02:26:24
33665 Kathryn Clark F 02:37:57
34031 Philippa Coffer F 02:39:15
34032 Alex Probert F 02:39:15
36222 Elizabeth Dick F 02:49:02
38885 Mark Reay M 03:14:17

40,041 finishers.

(Visited 83 times, 1 visits today)

Great North Run, Sunday, September 18, 2011

Grand Prix Race. Endurance Champion Race.

Denise Mason …

Wow what a great day today has been! I have to say, it’s a totally different experience starting at the front and I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity.

George, Jane and I got to use the queue-free celebrity toilets (which smell of perfume instead of urine) just past the start line. George had a natter with Nell McAndrew and Sophie Rayworth whilst I stared at half the cast of Eastenders, Holby City and Joe McEldry – pinching myself. We then line up 3 rows behind the start line! WhDenise worrying about what exactly was in that flask.en the gun goes off we literally go right over the mat in seconds. We all shoot off at a silly pace without the usual sea of runners to weave through. Jane starts to overtake George and I early on, however we’re both still surprised to reach the 1st mile marker in 7mins 55secs. By the 2nd mile marker, and the beginning of the first incline, George has backed off the pace and I find myself running solo. I’m aware I’m running faster than I should be, but I figure I’m going to walk at some point on the John Reid Road so I may as well make the most of it while I can. Before I know it I’m passing the 10k marker in 50 minutes (which would be a PB but apparently I can’t claim that?!). It’s then that I notice the 1hr 45 pacer guy running alongside me and I decide to hang on to him as much as I can.

At 7 miles I’ve caught up with Jane and I’m worried as I never catch up with Jane! Turns out she’s ok and its just me that’s running faster than ‘normal’. She tells me to press on and I have to say, I’m feeling great. At 8 miles something starts to go wrong, I have a stitch coming and going, I’m getting goosebumps as its baking hot and I’m feeling pretty ropey. My Garmin has given up – it’s now displaying a compass instead of the time/pace. A kind lady gives me some jelly babies, it starts raining and I perk up a bit determined not to undo my hard work so far.

I reach the short sharp downhill section clueless as to what pace I’m doing but I’m all ready to sprint when disaster strikes. My stitch is now unbearable and at the 800meters-to-go point I have to stop to walk. I’m embarrassed and I’m disappointed as I’m so close to the finish and I cant run just that little distance! I’m doubled over trying to run and complete strangers are dragging me along telling me not to give in but its agony! I finally managed to straighten myself up to go through the finish line when I notice the clock says 1hr 53mins 37secs. Kathryn, strangely quiet for once.The last time I ran the GNR I did 2hr 16mins so I’m pretty pleased with that time, although I cant help thinking how close I came to a sub 1.50 Half!

I had a great day and I think its really helped restore whatever competitive streak I once had. I have to also point out what a great job those marshals/supporters did. Speaking from experience, the rain is great for running but its pretty miserable for those guys standing about for hours in it.

George Nicholson adds:

Some of the Acorns relax afterwards.Well done to everybody who took part in this year’s Great North Run.

A fabulous turnout by Striders.

Big thanks to the Marshalls, and to Jan and Tony Young for the ‘cheerpoint’ at White Mare Pool.

Loads of PB’s, some great running in ideal conditions . Keri’s time of 1 hr 27 & 19th Female was superb.

Extra special thanks from me to all those who ran as TEAM ACORNS – you made this my best and most memorable GNR to date.

Team Acorns on a training run, apparently.


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Martin Mathathi Kenya 0:58:56
1 Lucy Kabuu Kenya F 1:07:06
524 Keri Pearson F 1:27:51
546 James Garland 1:28:09
994 Fiona Shenton F 1:32:04
1155 John Robson 1:33:05
3035 Peter Bell 1:41:01
3350 Alister Robson 1:42:02
3958 David Thornber 1:43:39
4305 Sandra Graham F 1:44:41
4680 Adrian Jenkins 1:45:40
4861 Kathryn Sygrove F 1:46:10
6691 Jane Ives F 1:50:19
8261 Juliet Percival F 1:53:11
8507 Denise Mason F 1:53:37
8920 Stef Barlow F 1:54:17
9878 Lindsay Tarn F 1:55:59
10328 Douglas Nisbet 1:56:41
11023 Dave Hooper 1:57:44
11487 Alan Smith 1:58:21
11826 George Nicholson 1:58:51
12747 Camilla Lauren-Maatta F 2:00:21
13845 Jim Nicholson 2:02:03
14422 Barrie John Evans 2:03:00
15230 Karen Chalkley F 2:04:22
16821 Danny Lim 2:07:05
18589 Greta Jones F 2:10:16
18620 Ann Towers F 2:10:19
20797 Angela Proctor F 2:14:23
22019 Pamela Kirkup F 2:16:41
23529 Jacquie Robson F 2:19:39
23622 Sue Jennings F 2:19:48
24745 Joanne Porter F 2:22:14
25171 Mike Elliot 2:23:08
26269 Andrew Thompson 2:25:37
35208 Margaret Thompson F 3:00:52

37,491 finishers.

(Visited 42 times, 1 visits today)

Great North Run, Sunday, September 19, 2010

Alister Robson

This is the third time I’ve run this race and up until this time I’ve not really enjoyed it and have sworn, ‘Never again.’. This time was different, I was properly fit, properly prepared and lastly, and I think this makes all the difference, a Strider. Going on the coach was excellent and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone next year, we arrived nice and early to a nice cooling drizzling rain.

Virtually as soon as we stepped off the coach there was a problem – Jo Porter had realised that she had forgotten her chip. I dropped my bag on the baggage bus and volunteered to go with her, which definitely worked to my advantage, if not hers, as it took my mind off the start of the race and ensured we didn’t get soaked and stiff standing around for an hour before the race. Fortunately Jo’s partner was kind enough to bring the chip through and we met up just after the Redheugh bridge. Chip safely collected we now had to try and get Jo’s bag on the baggage bus – no problem we thought as it was only now just after 10am and the buses didn’t leave until 10.10.

Unfortunately all the buses for her zone were now full and it was a bit of a dash to make the last minute baggage buses – which for some reason are the furthest from the start line..

Buzz Lightyear at the finish!Strider Marshalls.

Anyway heart rate suitably raised and warmed up we wished each other luck and went off to our respective pens. I was in pen D this year, having originally planned to run round with my wife in about 2 hours, but she got injured and as a result I was on my own, a little further back than the last time I ran in 2008, but this didn’t prove a problem at all. I got off to a nice fast start and up until about 8 or 9 miles had no problems at all.

It was brilliant to see Jan cheering me on just after White Mare Pool at about half way and also great to see Dave Robson and the other fetchies at the Fetch point at about 9 miles. 9m to 12m was a bit of a struggle and I really was glad of the hard work I’d done in preparation, getting to the coast was fantastic except that it’s always much further than it seems it should be from there – one banner proclaiming 400m to go seemed a particularly cruel joke as I’m sure I couldn’t even see the finish from there..

Anyway I made it round in 1.44.59 according to my Garmin, although this was later rounded down to 1.45.40 officially, either way still a convincing half marathon and GNR PB. I quickly collected my medal, goodie bag and T-shirt (Slight disappointment – still no technical Tee, Brendan?), had my photo taken at the official point and then set off on my way to the Lookout pub. I was astonished to find I was first there! Anyway I made good advantage of that, and started to make up for lost time – I’d been dry for the previous 8 weeks, and gradually everyone came in. It was brilliant to see everyone, to meet people for the first time in some instances and hopefully I didn’t embarrass myself too much.

I’ll be honest, I don’t remember a great deal about the coach journey back except for one thing. Andy, Is it possible to get a coach with an onboard toilet next year?

See you all next year I hope!


Pos Name Club Cat Pos Time
1 Haile Gebrselassie Ethiopia 00:59:33
1 Berhane Adere Ethiopia F 01:08:49
2557 Sandra Graham F 01:40:43
4222 Alister Robson 01:45:40
7830 Barrie Evans 01:53:44
8393 Jean Bradley F 01:54:43
8438 Stef Barlow F 01:54:49
8978 Dougie Nisbet 01:55:41
10826 Angela Proctor F 01:58:38
12019 Karen Chalkley F 02:00:32
12324 Lindsay Tarn F 02:01:04
13460 Joanne Porter F 02:03:04
14861 Michelle Langley F 02:05:24
17399 Kathryn Sygrove F 02:09:36
18863 Andrew Glass 02:12:10
19215 John Robson 02:12:45
20070 Emma Detchon F 02:14:12
20157 Jim Nicholson 02:14:21
20412 Greta Jones F 02:14:48
21590 Anita Clementson F 02:16:32
22802 Margaret Thompson F 02:18:59
28948 Alan Smith 02:31:04
38945 George Nicholson 03:35:33
39306 Diane Clavier F 03:54:10
39397 John Everett 04:06:48

38,500+ finishers.

(Visited 29 times, 1 visits today)