Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Bupa Great North Run 2012!

Andy writes:

A couple of months back two of my closest mates, Mark and Ashley and myself made the outlandish decision to take part in the Great North Run. None of us had run any sort of distance before, so as well as being a fantastic opportunity to raise money for charity, it also represented a personal challenge for all three of us. Ashley and myself ran for the Bobby Moore Fund, and Mark ran for GoMakeItHappen. It's now three days on from the run, and it's safe to say we're all still aching in certain places!

The first thing that hit us as we exited the car and began following the crowds to the start line, was the sheer scale of the event and that feeling of being part of something pretty flippin' epic. The start line itself was situated on a dual carriage way, and to get in place you had to walk down the slip road, it's a breathtaking sight as you look down the road at the thousands and thousands of runners all gearing themselves up. I'd say it was a good kilometer to walk from the start point, all the way back to our position, so we probably walked a good 2km's just to get to the official start line! It was a good 40 minutes or so from when the elite runners set off to when we did, so there was plenty of time for us to take in the scene, have a pre race natter and of course get some much needed stretching in! It was awe inspiring looking around at the plethora of different charities being represented, everything from Cancer Research to Dogs for the Blind. And some of the things people do for their chosen charities makes your jaw drop. Like Tony Phoenix-Morrison who completed 30 consecutive half marathons carrying a 40kg fridge on his back, or one participant running for Shop Mobility with a mobility scooter on his head. We were just hoping to complete the 13.1miles in one piece, never mind carting anything else along with us!

Crossing the Tyne Bridge (we're on the very left if you look hard enough!)

The atmosphere as we all set off was second to none, with chants of "Oggy oggy oggy, Oi oi oi" reverberating around as the excitement and adrenaline kicked in. I'd say we managed the first 6 miles or so without any problems, breathing was fine and nothing was aching too much. It wasn't until we got to around the 10 mile mark when our legs became heavy and earlier injuries flared up. But the crowds really did pull you through, with the streets of Newcastle, Gateshead and South Shields lined with cheering and clapping well wishers, pushing you on, making you find that extra gear you thought you never had. Every mile or so there would be a live band playing with inspiration music, the highlight being a rendition of 'Chariots of Fire' by a steel band around the 9 mile mark!

The 10 mile mark saw us approach the 'Bupa Boost Zone' with just over 3 miles left we were greeted by Jelly Babies galore to up our sugar levels and massage offerings if your muscles were in need! We plodded on, munching jelly babies as we went, washing it down with a bottle of Powerade.

Myself and Mark around the halfway point

I'd have to say the last mile was by far my favourite, the coast and the North Sea on our right as it seemed the entire population of South Shields had come out in force to push everyone across the finish line. We couldn't help but feel a tad emotional, not only because we had completed our first half marathon, but that we'd been part of something epic, along with thousands of other people raising fantastic amounts for their charities. We all ended with sprint finish, again, the crowds lifting you up for that last part of the race, willing you on. We completed the race in a time of 2 hours 40 minutes, which considering we were aiming for around 3 hours, we were well chuffed!

Name, number and medal!

It's safe to say we were all pretty damn knackered at the end, but a goodie bag including a medal, energy boosting treats and a foil blanket kept us from collapsing in a heap on the floor. One of the funniest moments had to be stopping off at the services on the way home. It seemed every other person who walked through the revolving doors were proudly wearing their medal, a Great North Run T-shirt and walking with a limp, we all gave a knowing smile to each other thinking "I know where you've been".

I think you know you've caught the running bug when you get in the night of the run, sit down, relax for a moment or two, then start searching for when the next half marathon is. I've already got my eyes set on my next race and the London Marathon is proving to be quite tempting now too! The whole day was superb and I'm sitting here wishing the next Great North Run comes round quickly!

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