Monday, September 19, 2011

Great North Run 2011

Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt! And the finishers medal, and the aching knees….

Not my best time, but not my worse, either. But still a long way behind Martin Mathathi’s finishing time and course record of 58:57. Fellow Kenyan Lucy Kabuu took 1st place in the women’s field. How do they do it?

We had an early start, leaving Anderton at 03:30 (yes, that’s half past three in the morning!) and arriving at South Shields at just before 07:00.

Sunrise over Marston Rock.

Looking down the last 1.1 miles. It got a bit busier later…..

I caught a shuttle bus up to the start at around 08:00, leaving Mags and Meg in the car. They’ll be at the 12 mile marker to watch the race unfold later.

Looking down on the start, in 2 hours 50,000+ runners will stream under this bridge.

There are around 30 double decker buses at the start, carrying the baggage of the starters to the finish, to be there when the runners arrive.

Loading the baggage buses.

Heading down to the start line.

The start is organised into zones, separating runners of different abilities. This ensures that the faster runners don’t fall over the slower ones! The whole assembly sequence covers over ¾ of a mile of the central motorway through Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Elite runners, those who’ve completed all previous Great North Runs (since 1981), and fast club runners line up right at the front. Behind them are the celebrities.

Celeb spotting.

Following along are the rest of us.

In the zone.

Penned in with the rest of my paced runners, Orange C. Poor photo, looking into the sun.

It’s all over, now I’ve the long walk back to Mags and the car.

Looking down on the extensive hospitality village. Most of the supported charities have a tent with staff that welcome their runners with drinks, food and a massage.

The Red Arrows display team always appear at the event. They do a fly past before the start, then soon after the gun has gone off. This time they flew a tribute formation in memory of their colleague, Flight Lieutenant Jon Egging who lost his life at the Bournemouth Air Festival in July. His widow, Emma, was running the race to raise money for a trust she’s set up in his name.
The final appearance of the team is at South Shields, at the finish point of the race. They arrived as I was walking back.

The iconic Red Arrows

The weather wasn’t too bad, cool and bright at the start, then we had a heavy shower 2 or 3 miles from the finish. This blew over in time for the air display.

Some of the later starters feeling the pain but with only ½ a mile to go.

We drove back via Ingleton, just a flying visit to say hi and pick up the mail, then got back to the boat at around 7 o’clock. A bit of a long day.  Slept well last night!

Many thanks to all those who sponsored me to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support. If you forgot, or never got round to it, my sponsorship website is still open…..

And thanks for all the messages of support, here, by text and on Facebook.

Locks 0, miles 378 by car, 13.1 running.

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