Great North Run: The best half marathon ever

Written by AndrewMusgrove1

I’m sitting here, 72 hours after competing my 3rd Great North Run and I’m still aching a little bit—earlier this week I was struggling to walk but I wouldn’t trade that feel

I’m sitting here, 72 hours after competing my 3rd Great North Run and I’m still aching a little bit—earlier this week I was struggling to walk but I wouldn’t trade that feeling for anything in the world because the elation of completing a race such as the Great North Run is a fantastic thing.

Being a born and bred Geordie, I’ve got a little bit of a sentimental bias towards the 13.1 mile run but then so it would seem have people from all over the world and until you run it, you’ll never understand why.  But let me try and explain.

It keeps you fit

Firstly it keeps you fit, you need to really train if you want to get from Newcastle to South Shields in one piece and if you put the effort in—not only will you be able to enjoy the day but also you’ll feel better within yourself, health wise.

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t really train this year and yet I got a relatively good time of 2 hours and 48 seconds (the toilet break cost me my goal of under 2 hours) but I’m feeling a little disappointed that I didn’t put the effort in beforehand and therefore I’m determined to keep running until September 2014 when I will finish under two hours. That determination and goal to do so, keeps you fresh and fit in the year to come which is always a good thing for yourself a steam.

An emotional crossing

However more than the fitness plus, is the chance to raise money for charity. I’ve raised about £3,000 for the Alzheimer’s charity in my first two Great North Runs, one running as myself and the other as my alter ego: Batman. My sister raised £400 this year and collectively the runners of this year’s half marathon will raise well into the millions of pounds for their chosen charity. 

I can honestly say that crossing line is emotional. With that special person on your mind, in this case my Grandma,  the thought of her pulled at my heart strings and the sense of the achievement brings you close to tears—not of sadness but of joy and remembrance! Thousands feel that every year.

People cheering you on

Then there is the atmosphere, which really does show why many label Newcastle as the friendliest place in the UK! Thousands line the side of the roads, Tyne Bridge, roundabouts, and finishing line – some cheering on family members but most supporting complete strangers helping them on with oranges, ice pops and sweets! They won’t have seen you before and are unlikely to ever again but for that day it’s like one big extended family – they see your name tag and begin to encourage you: ‘Well done Andrew’ or ‘Go on Andrew!’ the popular chants: they may only last a few seconds but to many they’re a huge boost!

You’ve also got the Red Arrows and their brilliant display over the Tyne Bridge and then at South Shields with death defying aerobatics – they’re a national treasure and really add to the day! And the ‘Hi 5s’ are equally as inspirational, it sounds silly but until you participate – you’ll never fully understand it!

See you at the start line

Finally, there is the location.  It may be my bias creeping in once more but Newcastle really is a great place!  With landmarks galore, it’s no surprise that this tiny race that start back in 1981 has lasted this long and will welcome its 1,000,000th runner next year! People come for the atmosphere but also the weekend and the city itself.  It’s not just a run but it’s something special. 

The reminder service for next year’s race, which will take place on Sunday September 7th, if you need any inspiration simply look at the pictures: the smiles, the tears, the Red Arrows over the Tyne Bridge—the sheer elation in the faces of 56,000 people.

I’ll see you at the start line.

Did you take part in the Great North Run this year, or will you be taking part next year? Have your say in the comments section below, on Facebook or on Twitter.