I’m sure a lot of you have done the GNR many times so there’s no point in doing a detailed mile by mile analysis of the race. Plus, I couldn’t possibly top Terry’s Ode to the GNR (or should that be Ode to drinking?) masterpiece so I’ll just share a few thoughts on my experience.
This was my first time running it. I’ve been unsuccessful in the ballot the past three years which hasn’t bothered me too much as paying fifty pounds for the privilege of running along the motorway to the coast doesn’t really appeal to me. However, living right next to start line, I feel like I’m missing out when every year, thousands of people gather outside my door with the music blasting ready to take part in one of the biggest road races in the world. Apart from the many races (and all-important parkrun) held on the Town Moor throughout the year, it doesn’t get much more local than the GNR. So when I finally got a place in the ballot this year, I was quite excited.
Come Sunday morning, it felt great to be able to walk out my door, casually place my bag on the baggage bus, head back inside and prop my feet up with a warm beverage to watch the beginning of the BBC’s coverage while everyone else stood outside shivering in the cold, queuing for the toilets. Thankfully, the sun was out and it didn’t take too long for it to warm up a bit. I only recently started running again after almost four months out with an injury so going for a time was completely out of the question. Perfect, as I could actually enjoy a race for once.
The atmosphere at the start and finish was fantastic. It was great to see so many familiar faces from the NE running scene. As we all gathered in our start pens, the warm-up and music all added to the excitement. The temperature was rising but I’d been running in the extreme heat of the Emirates for the past few weeks so this was mild in comparison. The race itself – not much to write about but there were a few highlights.
The thousands of people, including runners from local clubs cheering us on, reminiscent of the London Marathon.
The shouts of Oggy, Oggy, Oggy as we went through the underpass.
Going over the Tyne Bridge. Unfortunately, the Red Arrows only flew past when I was on the motorway at around four miles.
Best of all, going up that final hill on the approach to South Shields and the first view of the sea bathed in sunshine.
So, was it worth it? Fifty pounds for any old half marathon. Definitely not. But the GNR isn’t about the thirteen miles. It’s the buildup, the excitement, the stuff that goes on before and after the race that makes it absolutely worth it.