I have a huge apology and also a thank you to make to our lovely Royston, who kindly wrote this awesome article and has then been very patient waiting for me to post it whilst I have been wrapped up at work. So without further ado- here is Royston’s race report from the Great North Run…and boy it’s a goody!
50 metres in front of me, stands one of our most successful athletes, sadly he is not a Sandhurst Jogger, but the incredible Mo Farah. The announcer booms out his name to the waiting 50,000 runners who are currently causing the biggest traffic jam along the dual carriage way in Newcastle, as we wait to start the Great North Run. I have had the pleasure of meeting Mo Farah, but today this is the closest I will get to him. Trying to remain relaxed, knowing I have not really put in the training for the forth coming 13.1 miles, I know I’m going to be relying on my fitness to propel me round.
A first for me today, is sun glasses, they normally annoy me by bouncing round, but the sun is glaring, the temperature is rising and as we are running in the same direction for the entire race it turns out the shades were a great investment.
Here comes the normal count down, 10, 9, 8…..3,2,1 bang and we are go. I have luckily managed to get close to the start, unlike some of the poor folk who are behind us, and will take a good half hour to cross the start line. But even so, the build of runners as we make our way along the 5k is enormous, plus we are not even a mile in and people are walking, this makes the traffic worse.
I had convinced myself as we were up North the weather would be a little cooler than back home, oh I was so wrong. We are 5k in, feeling OK, but hot, and its from this point I realise the sun does shine in Newcastle. I spot a large billboard with the temperature on and it proudly displays a very warm 68 degrees F, lovely, I can hear my mum nagging me, did you put sun cream on?.
We run on the river and I was hoping to see the Red Arrows soar above my head, but sadly we were around 5 miles in when we saw them fly by the side of us, so we missed that iconic moment you see on the TV every year.
Just a few words on the shades, they are performing well, sat on my face and haven’t budged, feeling relieved. At this point I soon discover that the hills don’t go down, well it feels like it, my focus is fixed on certain elements in from of me, to take my mind off the constant barrage of inclines, I tuck in behind different individuals to help me overcome the miles. The plan is to follow a different bu…. person for each mile. This was going fine for a while, but the legs become heavy, the sweat is dripping and mental battle is on. The locals have been amazing, the scenery not so great, we are constantly offered sweets, ice pops, oranges, rich tea, yeah I could quite figure the rich tea, I’d need a tea to go along with that. I don’t usually take solids, apart from the odd jelly baby, but I got to around nine miles and I was like, yep, I’ll have an orange, yep I’ll have an ice pop thanks Newcastle, they helped. The locals even had the garden hoses out, the support at theses races makes so much difference when mentally you are struggling, oh look another incline.
My biggest memory of the GNR from the past, is watching Mo Farah run down the hill as you hit the coast line in South Shields, and he sat back and lost the race at that point. Well I came to the brow of the last hill, and the descent began, but as I went to lean into the hill and run down, the legs had other ideas, the constant inclines and warm weather had really taken effect and the lead weights that were carrying me down that hill were refusing point blank to go any quicker. So I hit the bottom of the hill looking out to the sea, oh nearly home, just as I come face to face with the 12 miles sign. It’s only a mile, just a mile, a measly mile.
OH!!!! my legs, this was a mental challenge, a lamp post challenge, tick them off as i go, then I hear Royston Go, i turn my head to see who that was, I know it wasn’t mum, she was in the city centre drinking coffee and enjoying the sun. Ah, my name, it’s plastered over my number, hey ho it took my mind off the pain. I suppose they have the 800m signs for fun, OK, 2 laps of the track let’s go, the crowds are huge, 5 deep in places, I dig deep and push the last 400m. I didn’t have a watch on today so i don’t have a clue on my time, but i was hoping for some thing around the 1:48 mark, as I round the last corner I can see the clock, 1:54, I feel the shoulders drop and even before I cross the line, my mind is analysing the run.
Then as I receive a medal, T Shirt and a birdseed ball thing called bounce, I start to think, no real training, a few pounds on the plus, heat, hills, Today was not so bad after all, now to drive home and focus on those elements and go sub 1:50 again.
The Great North run, is one of those races I would say go along, tick it of the list, hold your breath as you pay the entry fee and enjoy the North East experience, but if I run again, I’m taking the plane.
Thanks Newcastle it was a pleasure.