Watching the Great North Run on television was one of the factors that got me into running, watching those thousands of runners of all abilities crossing the Tyne Bridge with smiles on their faces, all on their 13.1 mile journey to South Shields.
Last Sunday’s day out in the North East was, therefore, a really exciting moment for me as I joined this iconic half marathon event for the first time. Along the entire route there were crowds cheering you on, many with hands outstretched for a high five. You don’t get this type of atmosphere at many other races.
It was when I was nearing the Gateshead International Stadium that the Red Arrows did their annual fly past, having just saluted the runners on the Tyne Bridge with their signature red, white and blue smoke.
Much of the route was on a steady incline so I felt my body having to work really hard, especially with the sun blazing down on us throughout. The water stations and showers were very welcome, as were the offers of jelly babies, orange segments and other similar treats from the crowds. Taking the steep descent onto the seafront at South Shields meant the finish line would soon be in sight.
The last mile or so was jam-packed, with spectators shouting words of encouragement and waving their homemade banners at the runners. As the finish line approached the National Anthem was played over the speakers. It was great to pretend it was for those of us coming in under two hours but, in actual fact, it was during the awards presentation for the elite runners!
With my Great North Run 2018 technical t-shirt on and medal around my neck, I was so pleased and proud to have finished the race with a respectable time. The incredible aerobatic display by the Red Arrows around the bay at South Shields was such a memorable way to round off the day.
My sincere thanks to everyone who has offered words of encouragement, sponsored me and supported me on this bucket-list adventure. Great North Run 2019? Who knows…
Mr Hill’s sponsorship website is still accepting donations so do please give generously using the link below. Donations will go to Revitalise – a national charity which has been providing respite holidays for disabled people and carers for over 50 years.