I think that the Great North run is an amazing event. A lot of my friends refuse to pay the entry fee, saying that it’s too expensive. Well, I agree, it is expensive, but I’m a runner, I love running and it’s one of the biggest and best races in the world and on our doorstep.
The cost is expensive, but as I often point out to them, it’s £50, how easy is it to spend that same amount any other time? It’s the cost of a night out, a day trip to Newcastle (Petrol money, parking, coffee, cake, lunch, small purchase) or the cost of a tank of petrol. If every race was this much then it would be ridiculous, but as it happens it’s a one off.
I love the atmosphere at the start, I love running across the Tyne Bridge with the crowds cheering us on. In fact two years ago the group I was with came out of the darkness of the underpass into the sunlight and ran across the Tyne Bridge. I was in the top 50 and feeling good, I turned to Danny Flint next to me and said “Bloody hell! I’ve got goose pimples, it doesn’t get much better than this). He replied “well we could be leading the race”. Good point, but I was happy.
For me the biggest bonus is that I get a very competitive race. Most races that I take part in the field is pretty thin where I am, but in the Great North Run there is always someone to chase just in front and the fear of someone catching you. And of course, where else do you get the crowds and support like the GNR?
I usually enjoy Brendan Fosters and Steve Cram’s commentary, I like their friendly banter and tit for tat jibes at each other, but I’ve got to say that I was really frustrated watching the race on Sunday. I understand that the BBC has an obligation to film sporting events of the highest standard, but surely they could acknowledge that there are some good standard runners between the winners and the charity rhinos and spidermen at the back.
What upsets me the most is that I think back to myself as a young athlete sitting watching the GNR on TV, I’d see the winners cross the line then I’d see all the local guys coming in, I’d know who was the best and who ran for which club. I’d see them in the local races and even down the club on week nights. I knew who I aspired to be like and I had clear role models, if they could do it so could I. I loved watching athletics on TV especially the summer track events around Europe. It was great to see the likes of McLeod, Cram, Foster and other North East greats wearing their club vests, mixing it with the best in the world.
On Sunday sitting at home there could have been a youngster in front of the TV feeling inspired by the Olympics watching the Great North Run. He will have seen the Africans running super fast times, 1st, 2nd, 3rd and forth, no sign of 5th then a flash to the finish to see Chris Thompson finishing (in a cracking time). We then had 5 minutes of cloud and rain filmed from a helicopter, a couple of interviews and back to the finish line to see the runners coming in at a reasonable time, but what about runners like Nick McCormick, Ian Hudspith and other sub 70 minute runners. These guys are class acts, why can’t they have their moment, surely they are inspiring runners. Every runner I know would rather see the whole race unfold rather than just the lead group.
Other sports like cycling and Motor racing show the rest of the race, they even show peoples split times and time the gaps between the groups, you get a much better picture of how the race is going. On Sunday you would think that there was a four man race and the rest didn’t exist.
Well by the time the coverage was over the weather had improved so I went out on my bike to let off steam. I thought about what I’d just been watching, 55,000 people running from Newcastle to South Shields, it felt like the whole world was running except me. I was wound up by the poor coverage (not commentary) and I was thinking of the wasted opportunity to help promote national athletics by covering the domestic side of the race too. I love seeing all the national, regional and club vests coming in. Time to find some hills!!
It’s really hilly here in Durham, as well as that it was bloody windy on Sunday. I was on a mission! As many hills as I could in an 18 mile loop.
I went hunting for new PB’s and I found them! I got a couple of top 3 rankings on the Strava leader board and a new King of the Mountain in Kellhoe. I was frustrated at missing the Great North Run, another target race gone by. It felt good to push myself and get my heart rate up.
On a more positive note about the Great North Run coverage, I’d like to thank Paul Dickinson for giving the Poly a cracking plug. He said how nice it was to see so many Poly vests in the race, he spoke about meeting up with an old friend Bernard and he recommended that some of the Poly old boys get together for a reunion next year. My parents both remember Paul from his hammer throwing days at the club and have often reminded me “he used to throw for us you Know?”.