Great North Run 2019

This is something I wouldn’t normally do. Travel four plus hours for a half marathon, was it worth, 100% yes.

Rachel and Il left Stroud at 12pm to travel North on the Saturday. After last year and paying extortionate prices for a hotel in Newcastle, that did include a coach pick up and drop off facility, we decided to try a different approach, stay in Darlington (30 miles south of Newcastle) drive to the finish, pick the car up at the end and drive back to Stroud.

This worked perfectly, the hotel was great (apart from a wedding party in the hotel, so we didn’t get much sleep). Another All runner Layla Dean met us at the hotel at 7am (she was staying with relatives in Darlington). We all travelled together to Newcastle, parking up easily at the end and straight on a metro to the start line.

We were originally in pen C, this is quite close to the start, but due to timing issues at our end, we missed the 10.30 cut off to get into this pen, and thought we would have to join at the back ie…..a 45 minute wait until we got to the start line. But we were a little cheeky and some kind runner made a space for us in front of him and we were able to jump over a barrier into the next white pen, which was such a relief.

Stuart and Rachel

We waited 5 mins and the race began, 5 mins of walking and enjoying the atmosphere and the very warm sunshine and we were over the start line and our race had begun. The GNR is mainly set on dual carriageway and main road, you do cross the Tyne Bridge between 2 – 3 miles. Completely understand this strategy, trying to get over 46000 runners through narrow streets in a city centre would be impossible, unlike the London marathon, where the field will stretch out due to the distance, this is a half marathon and the course does remains pretty congested.

The first few miles are very undulating, but you do not notice this, the streets are packed with supporters and you get to run under a number of underpasses resulting in many Oggy….Oggy….Oggys. We hit 3 miles and the first check point without even noticing, grabbed some water and off we went. Throughout the race you are cheered along with huge crowds. We got to mile 8 without the blink of an eye. Somehow out of the 46 plus thousand runners we spotted Layla (we both started in difference pens) and ran together for a short period of time.

After just over 11 miles you start the run to the coast. You go up your last hill and it’s a sharp downhill then turn left and the North Sea is on your right. The last mile is downhill and fantastic. There are thousands of people cheering you on, then suddenly you are at the finish line.

The GNR is a fantastic experience, it is not a PB course, as it does get busy. But we never looked at it like that. It’s an event that needs to be taken in, and to be enjoyed. If you never get into London and want the same experience, do this race. It is a credit to the north east and running in general. If you plan to do this event and want to run it all comfortably without bumping into stop start runners or walkers, get in an orange or white pen, enjoy it for what it is, a celebration of the North East and the thousands of pounds that are going to be raised for charities.

Ps…the T shirt, medal and the goody are pretty fab

Thank you Stuart Sharland for this report. Find out more about the Great North Run

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