Race report by Kelvin Elliott
Once again I had the opportunity to the double this year of the London Marathon and Great North Run. My Great North Run adventure started at 8.30am when I met up the Sam Smyth who was doing her first Great North Run. We met at Monument Metro Station and headed to the start with the thousands of other runners. We made good time to start time and used the facilities to try and calm last minute nerves.
Myself and Sam had a photo with a runner who was dressed like a dinosaur at the start.
We then re-joined the mass queues for the loo again and we saw that time was going quickly so we decided to abort the queue and head to the baggage bus. On our way we passed many runners and we heard the Great North Run anthem “Abide With Me” as this was going to be my church service today. We got to the baggage bus and dropped are bags of and re-joined the loo queue. Time was going quickly so we decided to abort the loo queue again as they were calling people to go to the start pens we were both in the Green Zone. I was in block H and Sam was in block I. I decided that I would start in block I. Once we got to the entrance of the starting the block we had a wait before they could let us in. We were all like penguins rammed in. The atmosphere was electric and amazing of 57,000 runners all raring to go. The sun came out and it went warm and then the clouds came over and it went cool. We had a 42minute wait before we could cross the line. I could see thousands of runners in front of us so it was going to be a good while. During that time the Red Arrows flew over us which was good. Keeping Sam reassured as we moved forward slowly as she was a bit nervous as this was her biggest run.
We moved forward slowly and we could see on the big screens showing the runners starting. After a good while we got to the start line, we headed off on the 13.1 mile journey. Words of wisdom from Dave Goodwin were ringing in my ears as I headed off not to go too quick during the first mile. Soon as we passed the start line and saw Brendan Foster I needed to make a quick toilet stop after 100 metres. I lost Sam during that time so I head off trying to catch her up. I must admit I pushed myself hard during the first 3 miles overtaking many runners and those who were walking taking the sights of the River Tyne Bridge.
There was crowds of people supporting and you could hear the chants of Oggy Oggy Oggy through the tunnels and in the distance so I lead the chant as I went through the tunnel. It was difficult to see the scenery as on the dual carriageway there was thousands of runners in fancy dress and I could see the Duracell pacers ahead of me so I started to catch up and pass them by. I passed the 5k point and it was roughly around 31 minutes which I was happy with. During the course there were some inclines were steep and downward sections. I overtook two soldiers carrying combat gear and anchors on their backs which was amazing and on the other side of the carriage we passed Nessa the nurse and saw Scooby Doo and Mini Mouse. I made good progress through miles 4, 5 and 6 as passed the 10k mark. Roughly at the 10k point I caught up with John and Nicki Bennett and had a brief chat as I passed them by.
For the first half of the race the runners had been spread over the dual carriageway but that changed when everyone was pushed together which meant it was more crowded and the space was a lot narrower so more weaving was needed to be done to pass runners who were slowing down. Sam caught up with me when we passed the half way mark. I approached the next couple miles of 7 and 8 averaging between 10 and a half minutes to 11 minutes. It was getting very crowded and we had to move other to let an ambulance through. I started to feel tired and drained so I had to dig deep.
I passed further drink stations and started to see the on-course showers as we headed towards South Shields. It was getting to the point where we could count the miles down it was 5 to go. I was thinking it is between roughly 2-3 laps of the memorial park to go. I always find that from miles 8 to 12 this is where your mind can play tricks and I knew that I needed to dig in strong and focus hard. At this point it was very difficult passing people as a lot of people were walking and I overtook a Rhino and that was not right as they always overtake me when I had done the marathon previous. I passed miles 9 and 10 still making good progress despite the constant weaving. I didn’t really notice the inclines and the surrounding area as there were lots of support and runners everywhere. I got to mile 11 and knew that there was not far to go during this mile there was a major incline which was tough as I navigated through people in front of me.
I approached the top of the incline and then it was a big downhill slope in which it was hard to control your legs as we approached the sea front the view was amazing as we turned the corner then we saw mile 12. As I headed along sea front on the last mile felt like an eternity as my pace was slowing down as I was tiring I tried to get through the gaps as they started to open up. The crowds were deep of people shouting and cheering. I approached the final distance markers as I was getting closer to the finish I quickly glanced at my watch and there was a good chance of a sub 2hrs 27m which was possible if I maintained my pace which I did. I crossed the finish line which was amazing to know that we had completed the famous Great North Run again then it was the walk to get the medal, goody bag and photo’s then get my bags and get changed. I must admit once crossing the finish line the wind picked up and it went really cold. I had a text come through stating I had completed the course in 2hrs 26m 17s which was over 3 minutes quicker than the year before so a course pb to celebrate.
I met up with my support crew and manager and met up with fellow Massey runners to celebrate our individual achievements. Well done to all my fellow Massey friends and runners who were there and especially to Sam for keeping me company at the start of the run. The Great North Run is a fantastic experience I would personally recommend it. I am going to talk nicely to the boss to see if I can beat this time next year.