Great North Run 2008

I love this event, it is a complete pain to get to, it costs a fortune, it’s almost impossible to get out of South Shields before night fall, but it still remains the highlight of my year. Grubby street urchins high fiving you, toddlers squirting bottled puddle water at your feet, spectators cheering and offering out ice pops, pizza and vodka. The folk from South Tyneside really get into the spirit of this event and you can’t help but feel privilidged to be part of it. At times through the race the emotion gets the better of me and I have to fight to stop myself blubbing.

I couldn’t fathom a way of setting myself a target for the 13.1 mile distance on the forerunner 405 so instead I had to set the pace of the virtual trainer and just watch my progress against my shadow. Being a “tad” heavier and not having shown an immense amount of commitment to my training this year I thought the best I could hope for was to aim for a 3:05 hr finish and so set the training buddy to 14min/miles. With the watch stuck on this screen I couldn’t tell what pace I was running at and so effectively ran the race blind. At each mile mark though I seemed to be gaining minutes on my buddy – I was kicking virtual sand in his face.

At mile 7 as was hosed down by a teenager in full firemans garb, it coincided with the end of the first episode the Archers and its replacement by P!nk’s “I’m Not Dead”. The combined effect was so refreshing that I experienced the best 20 seconds running of my life. I overtook walkers and everything!

Unfortunately in a half marathon, there is no escaping mile 10, it arrives like a soggy duvet and throws itself around your legs. At this point I was 9 minutes ahead of my target but with the duvet around my ankles I was losing minutes every few hundred yards. I was cracking up but at this time last year I had to step of the sideline to perform first aid on my thighs, something must have improved despite my preparations.

At 11 miles I had slipped back to only 6 minutes above the 3:05 target but I was smelling the sea air and getting all emotional again. My folks had driven down to catch me cross the finish line and started to feel a pb in my bones. I upped the pace at the 12 mile marker and kept looking down at my watch to see if I could get that the distance between me and my shadow to increase. It started to happen and I felt strength in my legs.

That final mile was exciting for me. It was just like the final leg of the Bushy park run, giving it all for a chance at some glory. At 7 minutes ahead of target I was struggling with my maths again to see how much I had to do to beat last year. The finish was coming upon me so quickly I didn’t think I had enough distance left to make the time but I was willing myself on anyway.


I crossed the line in 2:57:00 about 50 seconds slower than last year. Not a pb but I was so chuffed that I’d come anywhere near it. Here’s my thank god it’s over shot, I don’t think I look quite as happy as last year but then OGB had gone AWOL. His training had been a bit lacklustre as well but at the start line he’d decided he was going to push it anyway. When he wasn’t sitting at the agreed meeting point with my pint in his hand I assumed he must have been carried off in a helicopter. I was probably wondering what I was going to tell his mum as the photo was taken.

We found him eventually in an emotional heap after spending about 45 mins battling in the baggage bus for our clobber. Shoes and bags and shirts had been strewn all over and it sounded a bit like a blood fest. Luckily I got to avoid all that – that’s the benefit of running with fast friends, thay get to collect the bags while all you have to do is struggle over the finish and stumble into the nearest fish and chip restaurant.


13 thoughts on “Great North Run 2008

  1. Laser Runner

    Well done – it looked fun on the TV. Lets hope they give out Pizza at the food fest in Hyde park this weekend at the Royal Parks half.

  2. Highway Kind

    Well done. You look very happy (and rightly so)

    More races should offer pizza as running fuel. It is the way forward

  3. Adele

    Lovely photo, you look fresh considering you’ve just done a half! Your account makes me want to sign up, it sounds excellent!

  4. Celeste

    Yet more insporation coming from your blog. I’m sure there are quite a number of us who are truly impressed with your efforts. And overtaking walkers is something I dream about!! Well done!!!!

  5. Suzan - SHS1

    Fantastic time, really well done on your hard work. You are truely a runner now!
    Mum & Dad look v proud!

  6. Speed Racer

    Yessssss! I hate that virtual partner. She’s such a bitch! I hope you gloated lots when you beat her sorry ass.

    Congratulations on such a solid race! I love it on those days when you realize that training is overrated and you can pull a great performance out of your ass without all that unpleasant training, thank you very much! Although, running doesn’t seem that unpleasant to you lately. What HAPPENED?! You’re not going to go turning into a running geek on me, are you?!

  7. Roads

    Well done, Angela – what a great run!

    I agree with you about the GNR. Logistically, it’s such a struggle, and the congestion on the course is unbelievable. But the race is a one-off, and worth running for that reason alone.

    Finishing beside the sea and in the sunshine is wonderful, and that pint will have surely tasted even better.

  8. Ash

    The GNR is a great race, with regards to access etc a tip from a local:

    When you finish, hang around for a couple of drinks in the beer tent until the crowds slightly ease, then have a slow stroll up into South Shields town centre and perhaps another drink on the way. Head for the ferry landing and have final drink in the Alm, then jump on the ferry (usually little to no queue by 4/5pm) across to North Shields and either have a walk or taxi into Tynemouth or the Royal Quays to your hotel. It is a lot less stressful and most pleasant getting the breeze from the Tyne while crossing the river. I am fortunate in that I live in North Shields, so can toddle off home once I get off the ferry 🙂

    I was inspired to first do the GNR when sitting outside the Wooden Doll in North Shields I could see across the river to the Marquees, Charity tents, hoards of people cheering and shouting, and of course the fabulous red arrows going overhead. Topping it off was some of the first finishers hopping on the ferry and joining their family for a drink at the same Wooden Doll when many were still crossing the line (jammy buggers!).

  9. warriorwoman Post author

    Thanks for the tip Ash. I’m doing it again this year and staying in Newcastle. The trip across to North Shields will probably be far more enjoyable than waiting in line at the South Shields metro.

  10. Running Top

    I have done this race three times. first time i under estimated it! It feels way hillier than it looks (although someone told me its a ‘down hill’ course. Second time had a hydration problem, and third time got the time i wanted. But like the comments re the metro. The trip from South Shields to the airport is harder than the run!

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