Report from Peter B.
The day started early with an early morning text message from Australia to wish me luck, at 6:30am, it was appreciated but not necessarily the greatest timing.
Although I have done various races in different locations, the Great North Run will always be special to me, since it is in my “home” city.
Once the car was parked and bag dropped on the bus, I made my way down towards the muster points, still an hour until the race starts at this point. I stood and watched our very own Bryan Burnett interviewing various celebrities and Olympic athletes, Mo Farah was a notable high point, although he may need some development if he wants to excel as a motivational speaker!
With half an hour to go before the race I was in my muster pen, soaking up the atmosphere and watching nearly 40,000 people doing the Mo-bot during the warm up.
The elite runners were announced and set off and it was only a matter of time…
Usually these race reports talk about being at the front of the race and judging pace well and managing to overtake the leader in the last half a mile.
My race was similar to that, but in a way different. My pace was all over the place, as I was through 8 miles the leaders were already finished and even a third rate X Factor winner beat me.
That said the reason I was there was not to win, I decided to do this race so that I could enjoy the atmosphere and run a steady race and still have something left at the end to produce a finishing burst, whilst enjoying the whole occasion. I got part of what I aimed for.
The atmosphere was fantastic, and I made sure that I was always aware of the crowd around me and watching the faces of people shouting my name all the way down the course, I watched the red arrows fly over-head at 3.5 miles and I even chatted to a couple of Premiership referees, both wearing Newcastle United vests…
First celebrity spot was Sian Williams from BBC Breakfast, closely followed by Sophie Rayworth, also from Breakfast.
You will notice I have not mentioned the race or the running much thus far, I think the medical term is selective forgetfulness.
I made good progress up until 10 miles, despite the undulating course and wet weather and I was still on target for a sub 1hr 40 time, however, at 10 miles someone had built a rather large wall, which it appears only I ran into.
The next 3 miles were torture, I actually felt like I was running backwards.
I fell in behind Iwan Thomas and tried to match his stride pattern, which I did for a mile and a half, but still things were not going well.
The last 3 miles were probably at the right pace for 1hour 50 minutes or slower, but thankfully the first 10 miles meant that I struggled through to a relatively respectable 1:42:58, which I was happy with after my race strategy debacle and although Iwan Thomas went over the line before me, I actually beat him by over a minute.
It was quite depressing to realise though that the winner of the race was running more than 3 minutes per mile quicker than me.
The best part of the day for me was at 8.5 miles at the water station, I picked up my bottle and heard “Come on Peter! Keep going you are doing really well!”, when I looked up I realised that my fan was actually Dame Tanni Grey Thompson. She was working at the water station handing out bottles to all of the runners. I was overwhelmed that an Olympian of her stature was cheering me on, but also how amazing that she was helping in such a way. I am sure she won’t get any of the plaudits that the winners or organisers get, but she made my day!
In summary, great occasion, great atmosphere and so much help from spectators cheering me on, the only disappointing part was the running, but that wasn’t important!!!