Taking on the Great North Run

Taking on the Great North Run

19th September 2018 30 By Rachael Stray

It’s finally sunk in that I’ve actually taken on the Great North Run ticking off another item on my bucket list.

Avid readers will know that I’m working my way through 30 things I’d like to do before I’m 30 and at number 22 was about me wanting to run a proper 5k.

Well thanks to months of training I smashed that 5k and thensome as I completed the most famous half marathon in the world – the Great North Run.

In my Great North Run race day post I was feeling nervous about the challenge that lay before me.

Steve and I were up pretty early on Sunday morning and after a breakfast of Weetabix we headed over to my parents house in Newcastle.

My mam pinned our race numbers to our running tops and then kindly dropped us off and wished us luck.

There were thousands of people – runners and their supporters and a nervous buzz filled the air.

We asked one of the friendly volunteers where our designated starting pen was and made our way there.

Originally when we signed up I wasn’t going to run with Steve but he decided just days before the race that he would run with me.

We were both in the pink zone but Steve had said he would finish in an earlier time than me so was in a different section – you can move backwards though so he came into my zone with me.

We had about a thirty minute wait until our designated start time so we did some stretches and warm up exercises to get our bodies pumped up.

My mam and dad had never seen the start of the Great North Run before – shameful as we live so bloody close – but they came to support us.

As I was sporting a very bright pink cap they easily spotted us in the crowd and waved like mad until we spotted them.

As our pen filled up with more and more runners my nerves started to really kick in – could I really finish a 13.1 mile run?

We were the last pen to start the race and eventually it was our turn.

It was a good 15 minute walk to the start line itself and as we started to make our way towards it the heavens opened.

I thought it would rain all day and my heart sank a little bit.

But as we began to make our way over the start line the clouds parted and the sun began to shine.

I ran from the start line right to the first mile point without stopping.

As we made our way along the Central Motorway the shouts of oggy oggy oggy filled the air.

I started to get out of puff as we reached the iconic Tyne Bridge as we made our way from Newcastle to Gateshead.

As we came to the three mile mark both Steve and I were desparate for the loo – our last wee was at 9am some time ago.

We made a beeline for the portaloos (oh the glamour) and waited our turn.

This added an extra 10 minutes onto our finish time but I don’t think we could’ve managed 10 more miles without a wee!

I can’t get across in words how amazing the atmosphere was – the camaraderie from the other runners and the support from the crowds – it was absolutely electric.

The streets are quite literally lined with supporters – some from the charities which are being supported by fundraisers running – but most are just members of the public, volunteers and staff from our emergency services.

I have spoken to many friends who have ran the race before and they told me some invaluable advice:

  • pace yourself
  • it doesn’t matter what time you finish
  • it’s ok to walk some of it – most people will do some walking!
  • drink plenty of fluids
  • take the sweets when you’re offered them
  • enjoy an ice lolly
  • soak up the atmosphere
  • when you see the sea it’s not the end
  • the crowd will support you
  • take your energy from the crowd
  • enjoy every last minute

I think Steve was frustrated with me as I took every jelly sweet, orange slice and iced lolly I could from kind people.

Honestly the treats really helped keep my energy levels up and when I finished the race I didn’t collapse in a heap.

There’s lots of entertainment along the way too including steel bands and an Elvis impersonator.

It was such a hot day I was so grateful for the showers and I ran through every one bar the last one.

The last mile was the toughest.

The sea air was in your face and although you could see the finish line it was still some distance away.

As we reached the 800 metre mark the Diabetes U.K. supporters were there and they cheered my name and clapped as I ran by and it helped my tired legs.

It was a really emotional moment crossing the finish line hand in hand with Steve and I almost cried.

My parents were at the meeting point and cheered as we came by.

We picked up our medals and goody bags and then we made our way to the Metro station to come back to Newcastle.

It took longer to get home than it did to run the race.

The Metro was absolutely packed and so stuffy I was very grateful to finally get off!

I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who supported me by donating, cheering us on and believing that I could do it.

I’m really proud of myself as I never thought I’d be able to do anything like this.

I would do it again but I don’t think Steve would run with me again!


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