On Tuesday I wrote about my personal achievement at this years Great North Run which was celebrating it’s 25th anniversary year. Unfortunately, with the death of four runners (many more than on previous occasions) as well as some organisational annoyances, I couldn’t help but feel that the celebration had been a little soured.
Today I want to talk about what problems I saw at this years event, yet also mention some of the highlights – perhaps those that weren’t caught by the TV cameras. I also want to update you on my fundraising. Yes, some of you now owe me money!
I love the Great North Run, I really do. I have no idea why. To start with it must cost me at least �150 when you consider race entry, accommodation, travel expenses and spending money. Then there’s the fact I can’t walk for several days after. But on the upside, it’s great health wise and prompts me to get at least a little fitter beforehand. With the entry fee, you get a well organised event, a t-shirt, medal, and a whole bag of goodies.
You also get to see a magnificent Red Arrows fly past (twice if you get to South Shields quick enough) and this year the RAF Falcons parachute down from the sky at the start – brilliant!
Then there’s the charity element. Having not run for a charity last year I can tell you it makes the run so much more enjoyable knowing your doing something worthwhile.
I personally think the weekend is a brilliant showcase for the area too. I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again – the people of the North-East are fantastic. Be it at the various accommodation centres around the region, the cheering crowds along the route, including those that bring out their hoses to help cool us runners down. I don’t think any other run has this aspect and I love it.
Individual races have their own charm too. This year I saw an elderly runner that would stop at every band playing along the route and start dancing along to the music. Or the three men that, when combined created a caterpillar (at least I think it was a caterpillar), yet when they all stopped at the side of the road to relieve themselves… it gave me a little smile anyway!
One thing that has always disappointed me though is getting back to Newcastle after finishing the race.
With 50,000 people all trying to leave South Shields throughout the day is of course a logistical nightmare. I believe extra transport is put on – but not busses it would seem. They always seem to continue running to a Sunday timetable, resulting in bus journeys that are at times harder than the race itself!
This just added to the annoyance I felt at the start. Many of the 50,000 runners plus thousands of their supporters became huddled together on the side of the motorway before the race in order to catch a glimpse of the elite runners setting off and watch TV coverage on the big screen.
I think allowing extra entries this year should have seen some reorganisation of the start area to allow a greater movement of bodies. It took me 30 minutes to get from near the start line to the back of the race down – supposedly an access route.
The death of four runners perhaps highlighted some more pressing problems though. I can’t accept that just because there were extra runners than in previous years, that this counts as a reasonable excuse for more casualties.
This is especially true when you consider that there was no water at the start of the race (unlike previous years) and when I approached the eight mile drinks station they had ran dry – and I was only about two thirds through the pack. I think this was a major oversight and will need addressing for 2006.
Finally, the fund-raising!
But lets finish on a more cheerful note. This year I have been aiming to raise �500 for the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research UK. I am glad to announce that this target has been reached!
Hopefully with the collection of everybody’s sponsorship over the coming weeks, plus a few more belated donations, and the addition of Gift Aid this target will be smashed!!
Thanks to everyone for their support – an extra special thank-you to Jayman Estate Agents who phoned me on Monday and donated an additional �100 to the cause.