Category Archives: George Nicholson

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.

 

Results

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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Manchester parkrunathon 2015, Saturday, July 11, 2015

8 x 5km

George Nicholson

Last Saturday I took part in my 4th Charity parkrunathon to raise funds for Acorns Children’s Hospice, this time returning to the Manchester area to run in the official 9:00am run at Cheadle and to run round 7 other parkrun courses in the Manchester area all in one day.

parkrunathors for Acorns Hospice 2015

I did it there last year with Sam Nightingale (the former Sunderland parkrun E.D. & Netball Coach who is well known to many Striders). On that day 5 others joined us at different stages and we formed a ‘Dream Team’. One of those runners, Gazz Pashley, contacted me about a month ago and wanted to do the challenge again on the 11th July. So with little preparation and training I agreed, but not to do all 8! In the end I completed 6 of the runs which was still a distance of almost 19 miles, so I felt relatively pleased. More pleasing was the fun we had, new friends made, and the wonderful amount of money we raised. Leona & Lorraine were 2 Chorlton Runners who were also with us last year and they did a wonderful job recruiting several more of their fellow club runners. The Dream Team had grown to 10 in number for the 7:30 am start at Woodbank parkrun course.

parkrunathors for Acorns Hospice 2015

One big thrill and a lovely surprise was the appearance of Peter Bell and his lovely wife, Beatrice. They had seen my itinerary on Facebook, and as they were in the area met up with us all at 5:00 pm for run #7 at Worsley Woods – Thank you Peter.

parkrunathors for Acorns Hospice 2015

Arrow Valley parkrun near Birmingham (where I did a parkunathon 2 years ago) are undertaking to complete another tour of the West Midlands on September 5th to raise further funds for Acorns. Their Team starts off with a magnificent 30. Wonderful news.

parkrunathors for Acorns Hospice 2015

The pictures provide a better idea of the day than my words ever could, and will hopefully stimulate an interest in the minds of several of you.

Next Summer I intend to have a tour of the North East parkruns and some plans are already in place. Andy James has given me reasonable rates for a Bus with 2 drivers from Gillingham’s for the day. All I will then need is about 50 or so ‘volunteers’ to run with Peter & I. Fingers crossed they will be mostly Striders – Watch This Space …

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parkrunathon, Saturday, August 9, 2014

8 x 5km

George Nicholson

TEAM WITH A DREAM

Pieces of eight.To boost my Great North Run Fundraising I undertook yet another parkrunathon. This year deciding on 8 parkruns courses in the Manchester area. Rather than attempt it on my own I ‘volunteered’ Sam Nightingale to accompany me. Before she married, many Striders knew her as Sam Brown, former Event Director of Sunderland parkrun, & the young Lady who started up the Netball club, Wearside Wildcats.

It was Sam of course who introduced so many of us to parkrun, organising our Televised Santa Run and our annual Netball Tournament, which is now in its 4th year. Sam and her hubby Oli now live in Manchester.

zero down, eight to go.The schedule of events was decided upon and contact was made with each of the Venues and promoted on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Vodafone JUST TEXT GIVING also helped me along the way with promotion by designing ‘posters’ and promoting it via Twitter. From that we were contacted by Chorlton Runners and 2 of their Members Leona Beaumont and Lorraine Pang elected to accompany us on ‘our journey’, and what a difference they made. Apart from being delightful Company, they turned out to be invaluable help and support in so many ways. Arriving at the first venue – Woodbank ( more of that soon ) 2 other ‘unattached’ parkrunners Karl Downing and Jason Ridgeway also decided to come along for the ‘fun & runs’. At the 3rd venue ( Bramhall ) Sam’s Hubby arrived with 2 of his friends , Neil Grice and Gazz Pashley. From then on, we were a ‘TEAM WITH A DREAM’ travelling in convoy to each subsequent parkrun location, enjoying many laughs and providing morale boosts for each other whenever the going got tough, making it a most memorable day for me.

The omens were favourable from the start. Weather forecast was good and at 7:15 am we arrived at WoodBank park to be greeted with an amazing reception of friendly faces. There were approx. 18 parkrunners who had turned out at this early hour to run with us, the course had already been laid out, signs, cones flags etc. – Wonderful. My aim was to attempt to run each parkrun in about 30 mins, but that soon proved to be unattainable on some tough hilly courses on a very hot day. Survival and enjoyment became far more important than ‘times’.

Run #2 was the Official parkrun at Cheadle Hulme. This was only their 7th Event, but the 60 other runners and all the Marshalls & Organisers had put out the ‘Red Carpet’ for our arrival and again we were given VIP treatment. Of particular note here was a delightful youngster called Annabel who had a bell, and must be the loudest Voluncheerer in the Manchester area.

Event Director Janine met us at the magnificent Bramhall park for run #3. A most scenic run through woods & hill around a magnificent Stately Home

Run #4 was different again, 2 laps & flat around Burnage RFC and the very pleasant riverbanks. E.D Katherine & other ladies did an excellent job here of marshalling the ‘Dream Team’ at some critical junctions.

THE DREAM TEAM.

Run #5 was back to another magnificent stately home – Wythenshawe park. We were escorted round by 2 of their runners, but unfortunately became quite a spread out Team and several took wrong turnings at key points. one of us, namely me, took a major wrong turn and ended up running almost 5 miles rather than 3.1 L – a major fail.

Run #6 at South Manchester park was known by most of the team as it was their main local run and we were met there by another regular runner. However I never got to see any of it. The major fail on the last run resulted in me getting severe cramp in both calves and I simply could not walk, never mind run. It was also on this course that Jason went ‘down’ with a bad leg injury, which meant both he and Karl had to pull out. Each of them did however a credible 6 runs that day.

I at least had 2 hours to recover and was able to continue at Worsley Woods for run #7. Despite being quite late on a Saturday afternoon 6 ‘Locals’ turned up for us and were proud to show us round their scenic route.

At 6:30 pm we arrived at our last venue for run #8 – the magnificent Heaton Park. We were met by E.D. Damian, who explained the course and ran with us. Despite being desperately tired by then, not even twice up ‘Angina’ hill would prevent me from completing this one.

So by 8:00 pm we were ‘done’ – literally and physically . Although I missed out run #6, I’d still covered 25 running miles in the 12 hour day. Thankfully for me it was Sam that had driven the 90 miles in between. It was also worth noting that it was only the 3 Ladies who had completed all 8 of the 5k’s – Girl Power at its best.

A great day however, many friends made, but most importantly a lot of money raised once more for my chosen charity, Acorns. Big thank you to all who contributed and made this possible. Next stop for me Great North Run #34

Absent Friends.

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Emily Hart Charity Netball Tournament for Acorns Children’s Hospice, Harton Technical College, South Shields, Saturday, May 31, 2014

George Nicholson

Kerry obviously approves of 'marking' Ben Ford.The 4th Annual Charity Netball Tournament for ACORNS took place at a new venue in South Shields. Unfortunately Farringdon School in Sunderland who have allowed us to use their facilities F.O.C. for the last 3 years informed us just 4 days before the Tournament that they intended to carry out re-surfacing work ! This obviously left us with a major problem. Thankfully however, Gemma Sandberg of BACK2NETBALL came up trumps and found us superior facilities at Harton Technical College in South Shields http://www.wellnesssportscentre.co.uk/ and for a very reasonable charge of £60.

The day was sunny & hot, and there were several cases of sunburn reported afterwards on Facebook ! Approx 200 Netballers turned out to play, umpire, & Time Keep. There were 19 Teams , and these were split up into 3 different groups. 8 were in the serious Lady Netballer teams, 7 in the BACK2NETBALL Ladies Teams – This group included a Team from Shadforth Village calling themselves the SPARKLES, and they were pitted against the ‘ever-present’ Hannah Bayman, gallantly turning out a week before her big wedding. Her team called themselves GALS. The BBC were unable to raise a full Team, so the usual ‘Netball TrashTalk’ on Twitter was absent for once.

The remaining 4 Teams were in the most important ‘Mixed for Fun’ group. Originally intended to be 4 running teams, in the end comprised of 1 Team from Sunderland parkrun , and 2 from Elvet Striders (Purple Haze and Ultra Violets ) with Wearside Wildcats putting in a fun side to make up the numbers. Because Wearside Wildcats were our hosts the 3 Running Teams graciously allowed the Wildcats to progress through the Tournament undefeated and pick up a Trophy. The fact that they were highly skilled and very experienced Netballers was pure co-incidence and I’m sure never influenced any of the scorelines 😉

I had invites to play in 5 different Teams, however skilfully managed to avoid playing any games at all, thus ensuring I wouldn’t be a liability on Court to any of them.

Sadly there 2 unfortunate injuries. Michelle Mustard of Sunderland parkrun with a broken finger and Jane Skelton (Wife of Strider Tim ) of Shadforth Sparkles with a fractured ankle. Tough Sport is Netball, but thankfully this Tournament was just for fun J

Nice day for a bit of netball.

The plus side outweighed the minuses however, and acknowledgements go to :-

  • Kim Phillips Fox, Paul & Michelle Mustard for some excellent action photographs.
  • Wearside Wildcats Netball Club for hosting the event.
  • Gemma Sandberg and Charlotte Waites for doing the majority of the organising.
  • My Wife Anne, and Angela Proctor for doing a fine job with the Tuck shop again.
  • Sam Nightingale ( former Sunderland parkrun Event Director & Wearside Wildcat Netballer ) who originally set up this wonderful Tournament concept, who travelled up from Manchester and played in many Matches for several different teams.
  • Special thanks to Elvet Striders for their participation and generous support yet again.
  • ALL the teams who took part and had lots of fun and laughs which made this yet another special occasion.

£720 raised on the day. This means over £3,000 raised in these Tournaments since 2011 for Acorns Childrens Hospice – Wonderful. Once again many many thanks from Anne and I.

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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: http://www.justgiving.com/robynhadley.

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 😉

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Emily Hart Charity Netball Tournament for Acorns Children’s Hospice, Farringdon School, Saturday, June 1, 2013

George Nicholson

Jean enjoying the benefit of her team's secret weapon, Ben Ford.Wonderful support yet again from Striders at the 3rd Emily Hart Charity Netball Tournament in Sunderland. Match Fees revenue was £575 and the tuck-shop & raffle sales amounted to £300, so a fabulous £875 was raised on the day for Acorns Children’s Hospice.

The weather was miserable initially, but Hannah Bayman assured the assembled crowd at the introduction that it would soon clear. Clear it did, but it took a little while longer than “soon”. However the afternoon was hot and sunny and there were even one or 2 reports of sunburn.

We fielded two Teams: Purple Haze and Ultra Violets, and competed in the MIXED TEAM category. Unfortunately this league comprised of three good teams who play regularly. It also meant we were we unable to continue our friendly rivalry with the BBC (who were in the Back2Netball Category), nor could we play against Denise’s Team made up of her workmates from Virgin Media. It did however give us a chance to play against the two Sunderland park run teams – SeafRUNt Smilers and Parkrun Panthers.

Games took place at quite a furious pace, Purple Haze had an early baptism of fire against Joses’ Magic Army, and an hour later the eagerly awaited ‘derby’ game commenced – Purple Haze v Ultra Violets. 11 minutes later the crowd were on their feet and it was all over, Haze were the winners of this keenly fought battle.

Both Haze and Violets went onto win their games against the two parkrun teams, and secured places in the Playoffs later in the afternoon. So after playing 7 games each, Haze ended up in 4th place, Violets in 5th place , a good result considering the opposition. [… and considering we hadn’t got a clue. Ed.]

'Are you sure we can't dribble?'

As a bit of ‘spice’ and fun we combined the 2 teams during the lunch break to play a friendly match against the NQT BBC. Despite an early lead, the opposition scored 3 ‘jammy’ goals in the final few minutes and we lost out on this year’s bragging rights 😉

Even more sadly during this fun game, Katie Butler suffered a very bad injury and had to be ambulanced into Hospital. Thankfully x-rays did not show any breaks or fracture. Hopefully the swelling has now reduced and the pain eased. Get well soon Katie and we all hope you do not miss out on too much running.

Pippa too, took quite a tumble early on and ended up with cuts and bruising, but her pain was eased by winning the main raffle prize – a Digital TV!

Hopefully none of this puts folk off for next year’s tournament, and indeed hopefully many more Striders will feel inclined to join in the 2014 event. Big thanks yet again from Acorns, Anne and I, to everybody who turned up played, supported, and contributed to the Tuck-shop:

The one thing the fragrant and skillful Miss Mould wasn't expecting was a right hook. ROLL of HONOUR

Purple Haze: Denise Mason, Jean Bradley, Kirsty Anderson, Lindsay Tarn, Pippa Coffer, Rachel Terry, Katie Butler, Ben Ford

Ultra Violets: Alister Robson, Angela Proctor, Bill Ford, Jill Ford, John Greathead, Ros Roberts, Shaun Roberts, Dave Shipman, Scott Robertson, Mike Elliott, Alan Smith

Referee: Jacquie Robson – who worked tirelessly throughout the day – a very hard task carried out superbly well.

Tuck-shop: Anne Nicholson, Jan Young, Zoe Evans, Scott Robertson

Great Fun and some memorable moments, some of which are captured in the pictures (see below).

Last but not least, Big Thanks to the Wearside Wildcats Netball Club for hosting this event so professionally for us. A lot of work went into it’s preparation. In particular from Charlotte Waites this year’s main organiser, but with back up from Sam Nightingale (nee Brown), Gemma Sandberg, and Suzanne Dawn.

Fabulous Team Effort!

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Sunderland parkrun, Silksworth, Saturday, October 13, 2012

George Nicholson

Although geographically Durham is my nearest parkrun, Sunderland is still regarded by me as my ‘Spiritual’ home event and I am sure it still means a great deal to most of the long serving Strider parkrunners. We’ve all made some great friendships there and have many happy memories of some ‘fun’ moments over the last 3 years It was Sunderland parkrun that gave Alister the springboard to his marvellous commitment to the parkrun concept. I have also received wonderful personal support from them with Santa Runs, Netball, fundraising for Acorns etc, and there was a good number of folk from there who travelled up to my Torch Relay in Stocksfield . So naturally I wanted to be at Silksworth Park last Saturday to celebrate their 3rd anniversary. It was also the lovely Jane Niven’s ( Race Director and Organiser ) 100th parkrun and she hoped as many of us as possible would take part in a three-legged 5k parkrun !

There was a good turnout of 124 runners , including Danny, Mary, Kathryn and myself from Striders.

Having experienced a three-legged race over 50 metres at Shadforth Sports Day last month with Kathryn as my partner, I wisely chose to ‘bend’ the rules slightly and kitted myself up with a Rolf Harris mask and a dummy leg aka Jake the Peg . Danny, having heard of my previous experience, also wisely opted out of partnering Kathryn and volunteered to marshal the ‘Tree’ instead. Mary meanwhile ran on her own two good legs and was extremely pleased with her PB , over 1 minute quicker I believe.

Got to be 50% faster, hasn't it? Kathryn to be fair was a great help to me and accompanied me round the course. Our time would have been somewhat slower if I hadn’t ‘bent’ the rules even further and let her carry my spare leg for a good part of the 5k !

The cake was distributed at the finish line and enjoyed by all, afterwards a few of us popped into MacDonalds for coffee and chat. Meanwhile Danny had taken over my ‘props’ and entertained us with an amazing likeness of Rolf Harris 😉

N.B. Sunderland parkrun 3rd Anniversary Evening Social Celebrations will take place 7.00 pm on Friday 26th October at the Chesters Pub, Chester Road, Sunderland. I hope as many as possible of the original Strider-parkrunners can be there as well.

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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…

Results

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.

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North East parkrunathon, Saturday, July 28, 2012

34.1 miles

George Nicholson

The rate of growth of parkruns has been quite phenomenal. This time last year there only 3 established parkruns in our region. Durham was about to commence, and since then 7 more have been added.

It would take a brave man to attempt to run these 11 parkruns in one day. It’s not just the fact that the distance of 34.1 miles has to be conquered, it’s managing the logistics of driving to each of the venues and ensuring supporting runners will be there to meet, greet, and navigate the routes. Twitter & Facebook make that job a lot easier. As this was also a fundraising event and required the additional eye-catching fun element of fancy dress, it requires that ‘brave man’ to be a ‘super man’ … “cometh the hour, cometh Paul Smith”

Although Paul is a Crook AC runner, he is well known to many of us. He is also widely known and admired for his ‘Runstreak’. To date he has run every single day for five and a half years, 2000+ days. When he told me he wanted to run for ACORNS Childrens Hospice it was my turn to be ‘choked’. A magnificent gesture…

Paul and LouiseThe day started at 9.00 am at Durham parkrun and provided many of the day’s ‘highs’ There were of course the usual large number of striders running, marshalling, and helping to organise this event. It was wonderful to see Emma, Greta, & Dougie turn up wearing their Acorn’s tops. My son-in-law, Julian Hart, from Birmingham only had time for this first run and was pleased with his 12th place. It was also announced at the Start that Michael Spedding was running. Michael is the brother of Olympic Bronze Medallist Charlie Spedding. Both he and Charlie were School running buddies of mine and his presence revived good memories of our XC races round Houghall Woods way back in the ‘black ‘n white’ days of 1967.

From Durham the parkrunathon entourage commenced its journey round the North East. First we headed South to Sedgefield, then onto Tees Barrage, Middlesborough’s Albert Park & Stewart Park, next stop was Redcar. Mid-afternoon it was ‘head back North’ to Sunderland (the only time we had rain!), Whitley Bay, Newcastle Town Moor, Gateshead, and finally at 10.00 pm Chester-le-Street’s Riverside.

Again many memorable moments along the way including the presence on a couple of occasions of Sharon Gayter, international ultra-marathon runner & multiple world record holder. She could only act as ‘starter’ at Tees Barrage, but did she make a special journey to run the final Riverside Run at Chester-le-Street.

Support from Striders was also amazing. 23 running at Durham, Adam Walker also ran at Sedgefield & Sunderland, Stephen Garbutt came to Riverside. Kevin Williams & Billy Ford did the first 5 on the trot. They could not give their time for the afternoon, but did return for the finale. Kevin to support & Bill ran Gateshead & Riverside making his contribution 21 miles and 7 runs in total. Mike Elliot & Greta also ran at Strider’s spiritual parkrun home at Sunderland.

It was a great thrill for me to watch Paul run at each of the 11 venues, naturally I did not have the ability to run every one, so I took the ‘soft’ option and ran every alternate one: Durham, Tees Barrage, Stewart Park, Sunderland, Town Moor & Riverside.

We kept the best for last. A very emotional one for me in fact, and I know the same feeling was experienced by Paul as we crossed the line. He described it as the best of his 2030 runstreak days. I wish I had the means to describe the euphoria I felt, a kind of “ make this moment last forever “ feeling…. The pace may not seem that fast, 26:40 for 5k, but believe me at the end of a 13 hour day, over 18 miles of similar pace running, and you are determined to keep alongside an international ultra-runner, it felt VERY fast , especially when most of the folk around me were 2 decades younger! It’s only dumb pride that overruled what my lungs, heart & legs were telling my brain. Paul SmithThe light was fading fast, and this added to the ‘theatre’ of the occasion. Riverside is a compact 3 lap course and the wonderful group of supporters were able to cheer us on at several places. Surely only running in the Olympic 5000 metre final could equal the experience

£1250+ raised for Acorns that day! What more to say? It was indeed another good day at the Office.

Great contribution as ever from the dozens of Striders who ran & supported ’Superman’ Paul Smith’s great challenge.

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