Great North Run, 11th September 2022

After the initial doubts as to whether it should take place following the death of the Queen and cancellation of other sporting events, I think we were all very happy that the biggest run in the North East racing calendar did go ahead (it was such a shame that the kids missed out on the junior runs). And it was the Great North Run as it should be with a mass start all making their way over the Tyne Bridge and out to the seaside at South Shields.

My own day started early when the alarm went off at 6am. It was not for me, but for Gill as she was organising the 11 strong Claremont contingent of GNR volunteers and they had to report for duty by 7:30am. They were all given tasks near the start, manning the two water stations and directing the tide of humanity heading up from the City Centre. At least this meant that I could have a decent breakfast of porridge and fruit well in advance – something I don’t usually manage. My cousin, Neil, was also running this year and, having only run it once before, he was keen to be there early. So we got the metro together and we were stood talking to Gill before 9 o’clock.

In a break with tradition, the Claremont pre-run photoshoot took place by Exhibition Park lake instead of outside the North Terrace. This was due to the change of procedures, which had the baggage buses and entrance to the start area on the Town Moor for the striped, orange and white numbers. By the pre-arranged time of 9:45, there was a mass of people coming through the gate and those of us coming from the baggage buses were definitely going against the flow – Dave Manners thought better of it and stayed by the water tap with Gill and her team!

The organisers had aimed for a subdued feel with a minute’s silence and the national anthem, but I felt that there was the usual camaraderie and mix of nerves and excitement amongst the runners as we waited to start. I was next to a man in a lab coat with perspex glasses and carrying test tubes with a sign pinned to the coat announcing a world record attempt for the fastest half-marathon dressed as a scientist – you certainly to see all sorts at the GNR! He told me that the record was 1 hour 30 minutes and that he blamed the change of course for making him miss it by 37 seconds last year. I am not sure many people even attempt it, it is certainly a bit “niche”.

Finally we were off. The weather was good, probably ideal for running at the start with, dry and mild with little wind, but the sun was coming out and it threatened to get a bit too warm for my liking. I always find it difficult to pace myself and usually go too fast at the start, so I was doing my best to run “a bit slower than 10K pace”. I felt fairly good and, as my watch beeped at each kilometre, I was happy with my pace but wondering if it was a tad too quick. I always feel that I am going to slow down when I hit John Reid Road however fast or slow I have run the first 8 miles, so it is nice to have a minute or two in the bag by then. I went through 10K in 42 minutes and started to wonder if I could run 1:30 or whether I would crash and burn having started too fast. I decided to try not to take too much notice of my watch until at least 10 miles, because I knew the hard bit was yet to come. I definitely slowed on the long drag uphill, but 10 miles came in 68 minutes and I thought “I’m tired, 90 minutes is unlikely, 92 would be great, so just take it one step at a time”. I think between 10 miles and the point when you see the sea is the hardest part of the run, then you get a boost when you make the steep descent and turn left into the long straight finish. By then you know that you are nearly there and the support from the crowd will take you to the finish line. I tried my best to push on, particularly in the last 800m, but my legs just wouldn’t move any faster. I crossed the line in 1:30:10 – tired and happy with one of my best ever GNR times, but cursing those annoying 10 seconds!

As I was collecting my medal, I bumped into the “scientist” who was over the moon to have run 1:29:44 and was telling everybody who would listen that he had set a new world record. As I say, only at the Great North Run! It was then nice to meet a few other friends and acquaintances and see several other Claremonters. Nearly everybody seemed happy with their run.

Back home to watch the recording on the telly, we spotted Simon Lowe high-fiving Eilish McColgan and myself just starting off. Nearer the end, Steve Cram talked about Terry who had done every single North Run, all 41 of them, and was here again despite having had health issues this year. That can only be wor Terry, the one and only Terry Welsh, who has literally come back from the dead to complete a half-marathon in a matter of months.

Other honourable mentions should go to Lois Blaylock and Elizabeth O’Mahony, who have gone from Couch to 5K in January to GNR in September; Dave Manners for completing his 40th (he missed last year through injury) and what he says will be his last GNR; Mungai for finishing in 1:47 when he is not even meant to be running again yet; and, of course, to the amazing Joyce Archibold – 87 years young and still going strong.

So, all in all, a very good day. The Great North Run is well and truly back!

117Kris Axon1:15:09
591Roberto Marzo1:25:06
826Simon Lowe1:27:29
1153Tom Tinsley1:30:10
1228Paul Robinson1:30:51
1391Nikoletta Szlovak1:32:14
2598Laurie Johnson1:38:39
2687Maria Duenas1:39:01
2942Jon Hinchmore1:40:08
3021Isabel Neatrour1:40:29
3449Dean O’Brien1:42:10
3532David Devennie1:42:25
3643Maddie Day1:42:51
5269Mungai Wairia1:47:52
6265Arthur Liu1:50:32
6456Catherine Young1:51:03
6457Liz Denyer1:51:03
7414Brian Hegarty1:53:26
7981Charlotte Johnston1:54:37
11617Clare McKitterick2:01:35
13105David Lydall (2h 5m pacer)2:04:36
13115Nina Jensen (2h 5m pacer)2:04:38
13670Tara Hipwood2:05:45
14345Mariana Mouzinho2:07:08
14517Hazel Juggins2:07:29
16248John Bell2:10:47
17901Luke Woodend2:13:59
19320Marie Slack2:16:44
33009Lena Lou2:50:29
33358Lois Blaylock2:51:39
33499Joyce Archibold2:52:09
35272Elizabeth O’Mahony2:59:24
36489David Manners3:05:13
40141Terry Welsh3:43:34
Tom Tinsley -