Club runner, Katharina Reichelt, ran her 11th Great North Run on 13 September in memory of her dad and to raise money for Water Aid. Read on for her brilliant race account.
57,000 runners this year. I managed to not bump into anyone I knew beforehand, but made some new friends on the way. Conditions were initially cold, and increasingly too hot. I don’t understand what all these Southerners are on about that it’s cold up North. It really isn’t. And let me thank my fellow ginger runner in the queue for the toilets, who insisted I refresh my sunscreen – thank you Sir, your factor 50 probably saved my life.
I have now found the perfect time to queue for the loos: the evening before. Not saying you need it then or it is practical, or you meet nice people offering you sunscreen, but there is plenty of availability then. They did not give the same stern warnings as in previous years about not using the bushes. No one listens anyway, so they probably just gave up.
Runners of all shapes, sizes and ages bunched together, swap last minute tips: Don’t worry, it’s downhill all the way (total lie), and shuffled over the start line, down the motorway and over the bridge. The atmosphere as always brimming with excitement and joy.
Supporters: I listened to Frank Bruno being interviewed before the start, and he praised the Northern crowd over London. How very generous of him to say this, and totally true (North will always top the South, not just geographically). It was of course easy this year, because the weather was fantastic (if you were standing on the side-lines and topping up your tan). But that diminishes in no way the endless clapping and shouts of encouragement, and supply of jelly babies, oranges, ice lollies, chocolates, bananas and high 5s. A word of advice to the little boy at Mile 9, don’t try to throw the stuff at the runners, it’s really really hard to catch. Thank you all, it really is appreciated!!! We could not do it without you, and frankly, I am not sure I would bother. It is the supporters that are making this run the most special!
Runners: This year I caught up with the geriatric Minnie Mouse at mile 3, she must have done some speed training, last year I think it was Mile 2. See, you are never too old to improve. I trailed Maverick and Iceman from Top Gun for a couple of miles, but having their Jets with them, they were at a distinct advantage. The diet in the jungle appears to be very nutritious, as the two Tarzans in their skimpy chaffing inducing outfits that I spotted were well nourished… I did overtake a running beerbottle, but I am uncertain that it was an achievement. I also overtook Frank Bruno!!! Yes Sir. Mind you, he did run for charity (good man), and pushed a wheelchair, so maybe he had a bit of a disadvantage there… What am I talking about, I beat Frank Bruno!
Injuries: The last 4 miles were a drag, as my hip checked out. It’s attention seeking behaviour, I am sure, so I decided to ignore it (also, I did not want to walk the last 4 miles, would have taken me ages). My hip is still mardy at me for it, so we are not talking at the moment. So, do my feet hurt? My legs? Funny enough, what does hurt is my thumb. I accidentally rammed a safety pin under the nail trying to fasten the race number. These are the true injuries of athletes, and I am sure you feel the pain as I do.
Ride home: I did not bother with the metro, which was a good choice as it turns out, but just jumped on a bus and was home by 2pm. And I met another fellow ginger on the bus. We have come to the conclusion that on a cloudless day, all gingers should get a 10-minute handicap. It’s just fair, as you can see us shrivelling away on the course, or chasing any little bit of shade. A bit like vampires…
Goodybag: I have moaned about this in the past, then saw the light when I realised that Edinburgh marathon assumes all you need is half a flapjack. GNR, now sponsored by Morrisons, gave us a good sized bag of crisps, cranberries, and a flapjack. Excellent.
Organisers: Thank you for stopping using the silly fob on your shoe. See, you had to bend down to get that thing off at the end, and needed some elderly volunteers helping you in the past. So, accept my heartfelt thanks! It’s Morrisons now rather than Bupa. I did not really notice a difference other than that the banners were yellow rather than blue, and maybe a more useful goodybag. No one asked us to swipe our miles & match cards at the end… Could we get double points for finishing at the checkout? It’s an opportunity guys, just saying…
Congratulations: to my fellow runners, Claire, Gillian, Daniel, Daniel, Emma, Andrew, Bernie, little Bernie, Karen etc. , well done to us all!
Selina, you need to rethink your strategy… There must be another way to avoid public transport…
… LAST BUT NOT LEAST, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SUPPORTING ME AND THE CHOSEN CAUSE THIS YEAR, WaterAid.
This one was in memory of my dad. Love you and miss you.