It’s overblown, overhyped, overpriced and OTT, but I don’t care. I love it! I love the Great North Run! We may all be Brendan’s whores, but it’s good to feel dirty and sinful once in a while. Poor man’s gotta be able to feed his family after all. He can be my pimp any day.
This was my 2nd GNR and so I considered myself a seasoned pro. I knew there would be crowd trouble. I knew that there might be some congestion, occassional gridlock, and things would get sticky, especially at the lucozade stations. I had a rough race plan that, broadly speaking, involved getting as much out of my entrance fee as possible. I would go through every shower, drink every lucozade, listen to every band and high-five as many people as possible.
After disembarking from the coach I soon lost sight of my fellow Striders. Barrie and George waved their VIP cards and headed straight to the front of the field. Feeling part of a 52,000 sized family I wandered with camera in hand and soaked up the atmosphere. This year I was running for Shelter so I kept an eye open for other Shelter supporters. Not everyone took kindly to me bounding up and asking for my photo to be taken but a couple of charming friendly lassies were happy to pose with me.
I knew things would be busy but was surprised at just how chocka it turned out to be. Last year I was at the back of the last pen and it took me less than 15 minutes to the start. This year I climbed into the pen in front but we still crossed the start a good 28 minutes after the gun had fired. Chatting to Margaret in the pub later we both agreed that the second half of the race was the more congested – I don’t know if that ties in with what others found. My split times show mile three as being the fastest. Andy James had sponsored me on the understanding that I would hit a sub-2hr time, and at the half way mark I was on track. But it was pinball wizard all the way after that. Dodging, ducking, bouncing and ricocheting was hard work so I settled down to high-fiving and waving. Apart from spotting Dave Robson at the Fetchpoint I saw no-one else I recognised. I had a spell of staring accusingly at runners that I passed whose colours clearly had no relation to their prospective finish time. I trusted my glare translated as “How the hell are you in that colour when you’re walking up this teensy hill?”. I paused in my Hard Stare activities to high-five Elvis and, realising that the road ahead was blocked, settled down for an easy finish. At least this year I was not passed by any amusingly shaped vegetables.
Meeting up with Roberta at the finish was tricky due to the huge crowds and congested mobile network. We decided later than one of the nicest parts of the day was just sitting in the companionable coziness of the Look Out Inn having a quiet drink and waiting for the coach, listening to the day’s tales being told around us. After the frenetic buzz and crowds of the preceding hours it was a peaceful oasis of calm.
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