The Great South Run….it’s called GREAT for many reasons!!
Was it on or off? Was storm Brian going to get the better of the organisers?!! It was an anxious couple of days where I was obsessing over checking my emails hourly but thankfully Brian blew through on the Saturday which meant we were good to go on the Sunday!
My alarm went off at 6am and I jumped out of bed and into the pile of running gear that was piled up beside my wardrobe, a quick dash over to Bagshot to collect the lovely Ros and then back to Sandhurst to meet up with Angela who had kindly offered to drive us into Portsmouth! We reminisced on the way about last years Great South (our first time doing it) and although I was extremely excited to be doing it again the nerves were slowly beginning to kick in.
When we arrived at the park & ride in the docks we got turned away & redirected to another car park….it was obviously going to be another popular/busy year at the GSR!
Once aboard the bus & heading towards the start line I met up with my friend Louise & her family. Louise was once a member of Sandhurst Joggers but unfortunately due to her Dad becoming poorly last year she had to put her running to one side for a while but is now very much back into it. This year her dream was to run the GSR in memory of her Dad who sadly lost his battle with cancer last year. She was determined to raise as much money as possible for Macmillan. She needed a training partner & needed a companion in her words ‘to get her round on the day!’ So that’s where I stepped in!! Louise was really nervous & had only run up to 8 miles in previous runs but I kept assuring her the GSR was FLAT & the ATMOSPHERE was AMAZING so she wasn’t to worry! I promised to stick by her side the whole way round and that is what I did. She was very aware I could of run at a slightly fastest pace and kept insisting if I wanted to run on at any point I should but that’s not what this year was about. This year was about supporting a great friend and helping her achieve something she didn’t think would be possible this time last year!
So after queuing for the loos for what felt like a lifetime it was finally time to head to the start line! Big hugs & kisses for our families (& a few tears!) & off we went! The atmosphere on the start is infectious, everyone gets really into the warm up with Mr Motivator (or maybe it was his son?!), the crowds are cheering you on and the adrenaline is pumping!
The start pistol fired & we were off…. ten long miles ahead of us but I have to say just like last year they flew by.
Louise settled into a pace and I settled with her, we spent the run taking in the crowds, enjoying the various music along the way (the steel band were my favourite!) and admiring all the different walks of life who take part in the GSR from the young to the old, those with disabilities and those who dress up in some crazy costumes! It was lovely to also bump into various SJ’s along the route. We tucked in behind my great friends Angela and Ros for most of the run. It was also great to run and chat with Natalie and Kate for part of the run too! Caroline, you and Kim were too fast so we never managed to catch up with you!
Louise was doing great and as we approached mile four we could see some familiar little faces in the crowd! Our kids screaming “Go Mummy” at the top of their voices… it’s the best feeling in the world to have the most important people in your lives there to cheer you on. Lots of high fives and big smiles from us all and we then pushed on. The jelly beans came out at about mile six where Louise was clearly beginning to feel it in her legs but there was no stopping her! As we turned onto the sea front for the final push storm Brian was clearly still hanging about. I was mostly worried about my hair!!!!!
It was a tough last couple of miles, with heavy legs and in windy conditions but I was so proud of what Louise was about to achieve.
The nine mile sign was finally in sight and at this point Louise just looked at me and said “just keep talking to me!!!” Those that know me well know I don’t struggle in that area so I happily obliged and just rambled on about absolute nonsense plus assuring her we were nearly there. We were desperately looking out for our other halves and kids in the crowd as we wanted to give them one final high five before we crossed the line.
Eventually we spotted them about 40 metres from the finish and this was the moment that will stick with me forever…they ran out of the crowd to us, (not sure if this is officially allowed?!) grabbed our hands and with our most precious possessions right by our sides we crossed the finish! Not a dry eye in the house!!!! 1:54:34…. DONE & I even let Louise finish 1 second ahead of me!
So rounding up….. if you’ve not yet run the GSR get yourself a place for next year! In my opinion it’s a GREAT race, with a GREAT atmosphere, with GREAT crowds and you come away from it feeling… yep you guessed it… GREAT!!!!!
I’m definitely signing up for next year and contemplating doing the GNR next year too!