A Striders Sunday social run with 57,000 other people

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Official results say 25 Striders ran the Great North Run, but add on those who joined since getting a GNR place, so not registered as a Strider, or those who ran is disguise (not that we would condone number swapping of course) and there were loads more running the 13.1miles from Newcastle to South Shields.

The Striders bus left club HQ nice and early for an easy trip up to Newcastle. We had a mixture of first timers and those who are now part of the GNR furniture. The last part of the journey into Newcastle city centre was along the first half of the route, just to get us even more excited! Looking strangely quiet at 8:30am we knew how different that would be 2 hours later. Despite Vicki threatening to say on the bus as she was so nervous (no need to be nervous as looking at the results she smashed it! 👏👏👏), we all headed off for the short walk to the start. Stopping in MacDonalds for the first of the all-important toilet stops we thought we had lost Gav and Mike, but luckily not, just for once the men’s queue was a lot long than the ladies – welcome to our world guys! 😂While waiting about 3 hours for Gav and Mike to return we met loads more striders and an hooray Strider dressed as a Gorilla – just a usual sight on GNR day then.

Striders at the GNR

Arriving at the start we headed for the baggage busses, as these are colour co-ordinated it meant waving bye to the rest of the group in different coloured start zones. Baggage sorted we headed off for the next toilet trip. Helen’s tip of the day to walk right to the back because there would be no queue was spot on – note to self remember this for next year! Don’t tell everyone though keep it a Strider secret tip or those queues will get too long. 😁 Apparently, the mile walk was a good warm up too. 🤔

After a traditional pre-race selfie and hanging around for a while, we headed into our start zones and a 30 minutes wait for the race start. With music and the challenge of avoiding flying arms and legs from the mass warm up in a confined space to keep us entertained the time passed quickly. Luckily most people got bored of this after the first few minutes so no black eyes this time. As the elites began to be announced we knew it was time. A few seconds later and we we’re off – well ok a few minutes later we started walking slowly towards the start – but then we were off. 🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️🏃‍♀️

So who chose over and who chose under the underpass? Personally it’s always over – if it’s good enough for the elites it’s good enough for me. Well did have Mo to chase after all. We still get to shout Oggy Oggy Oggy in the short underpasses. Wasn’t quite so impressed when someone shouted Toon Toon Toon, resisting the urge to shout Boro Boro Boro in reply I picked the pace up and got out of there.

We soon reached the first landmark of the day and the amazing sight of the Tyne bridge, packed with people shouting encouragement as if they had known you for years. Running across it is superb. Just past the Tyne Bridge brings the most important move of the day – making sure you’re on the right hand side of the road aka the quiet side. As we passed the Gateshead stadium and mile 3 the Red Arrows flew over. It’s amazing there’s never a pile up of people as everyone stops looking where they’re going and watches the awesome sight of the Red Arrows.

Heading along the Felling Bypass there was the usual mix of runners, people aiming for a time passing those who had set off too quickly in the excitement and were now suffering mixed those just wanting to finish and the odd person dressed up. The vast majority of people wearing an amazing array of colourful charity tops. Lots had personal messages of why they were running on their backs. If you ever need encouragement to keep running reading those will give you it. Hearing the sound of kids shouting in excitement whenever they saw someone dressed up or got another high-five was great. Before we knew it we were at White Mare Pool and almost at half way. The crowed encouragement and bands on the side of the road continued all the way. Turning onto John Reid Road you could hear people complaining about the hill, a slight exaggeration, but still the support of the locals continued shouting any name they saw on peoples running numbers. We passed Tanni Grey-Thompson on the mile 8 water station encouraging everyone as they passed. Going through the boost zone gave a much needed errrr boost with people announcing who was running through and extra loud music. As we approached mile 10 news filtered through that Mo had finished. Hummm will have to wait until next year to beat him then. The count down was now on to the sea front. The usual last beer stop before the end was out around 11 miles again. 🍺🍺 Own up who had some??? Before long we were heading up the long drag of a hill and got our first sight of the sea. Then the downhill weeeeeeee time to let the legs go. Did you know that the GNR is officially a downhill course thanks to that drop? Sorry anyone who set a world record but that means it won’t be officially recognised. Turning onto the sea-front the crowd noise picked again. Only 1 mile to go and it was the best mile of the race. The numbers watching got bigger and noise got louder as we got closer to the finish. 1km to go… 800 meters to go… It was starting to feel really hard work by this point but time to push on. 400 meters to go… where’s the family they should be around this point… ah ha spotted. 200 meters to go and turning onto the grass we could see the finish… We had made it. Great North Run 2017 finished and it was as good as ever!

We arranged to meet at the Parkinson’s charity tent. It was great to catch up with all the Striders, each beaming from ear to ear with stories of their race. There were some superb results with loads of PB’s smashed but more importantly amazing memories made and lots of money raised for great causes close to people’s hearts.

So how did everyone recover straight after?? Well Andy went on a freebie hunt, Jason ate all the flapjacks and chocolate brownies, Lisa and Neil got chips (good choice!! 😋😋) and Helen and Rachel queued for ages for the toilet in a pub – hopefully they made it to the bar in the pub too. It was then back on the bus and home to Striders HQ.

Same time next year everyone???

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