Great North Run – Nicci’s 2014 Experience

I’d been told by several friends who had entered previous years that the atmosphere would be amazing but you have to experience it first hand to appreciate it fully, and seeing it on TV does it no justice.

So what do you do if you get an email from WTW saying that they have a couple of spaces left on the GNR team, well if you’re me then you say “I’ll see you there!!” and what a day it was….

I’d been told by several friends who had entered previous years that the atmosphere would be amazing but you have to experience it first hand to appreciate it fully, and seeing it on TV does it no justice.

I had decided to run this event just to challenge myself a wee bit, but hadn’t done as much running training as I would have liked, but I walk all day for a living so if anyone ever tells you that you can’t get fit from walking, well that’s just rubbish.

On the morning of the race myself and 2 friends Suzanne and Paula met up with the lovely Jen from WTW and the rest of the team, it’s always lovely to catch up with people you haven’t seen since your last event or only actually chatted to on fb.

Then it was time to make our way to the start zones. The start zones are on a dual carriageway in the heart of Newcastle City Centre and packed out with people as far as the eye can see. A good friend who has run it many times said to me to make sure I start from the left hand side, so I took his advice. We got a great warm up from Roy Gayle to set us on our way, then the countdown began AND WE WERE OFF, except we weren’t!! One thing you should know about the GNR is that it takes quite a while to get over the start line (unless you’re MO FARRAH) in fact it took 39 minutes, but who cares when you’re taking part in the world’s biggest half marathon it just doesn’t matter. The atmosphere is electric and when the Red Arrows buzzed over our heads the crowd cheers was amazing.

Finally we got on our way and I soon realised why I’d been told to stay on the left, the right hand side go straight on to an over-pass and uphill, what’s that all about, whereas we went into the underpass and also into some welcome shade as the temperature must already have reached the 20’s, or so it felt. In the echoing shade of the underpass the shouts were deafening “OGGY OGGY OGGY” “OI OI OI” , gives me goosebumps just thinking about it.

So I got into a comfortable pace and just let myself get taken along with the atmosphere. Even starting from one of the back zones you’re never alone on the route, the entire way is just jam packed with runners and walkers.

One thing that strikes you along the way is the phenomenal crowd support, hundreds of friends, family and locals lining every inch of the route, people shouting your name in encouragement, little kiddies holding out their hands for high 5’s. It all spurs you on and makes the miles just fly past.

The route is reasonably flat until you reach the infamous John Reid Road at around 8.5 miles, it’s not a steep hill but just a long slow climb that goes on til about mile 11, by then you’re in South Shields and you can smell the finish line. Mile 12 is a welcome sight as it then starts to go downhill and even though people who clearly finished ages before are walking past (in the opposite direction) the crowd encouragement doesn’t diminish. The last 800 metres brings a lump to your throat, the crowd cheering every single person on and even though I didn’t know anyone you just felt like they were there just for you.

Then you see the finish line and what a welcome sight! It’s then that you take in the view of the North Sea and the Beach Front of South Shields. The finish of the GNR is as well organised as the start, everywhere is clearly marked although trying to find people amongst 1000’s is quite tricky. I found my phone signal a bit iffy, probably due to the sheer amount of people texting and calling, so it’s a good idea to arrange in advance where to meet up at the end.

Once me and my friends eventually found each other we made our way to the end of the beach front to find our transfer bus back to Newcastle City Centre. We paid £12 each for a bus transfer, my advice to you is don’t bother. Firstly you have to walk about a mile to find where the coach park is then the roads are GRIDLOCK, it took us over 3 hours to get back, 2.5 of those just getting out of South Shields. Next time I’d just walk a short distance to one of the close by Metro Stations and be back in probably less than 30 minutes and for no more that a couple of pounds.

So if you’ve sat at home and watched GNR on TV and thought “I’d like to do that” then GO FOR IT, with the sheer number of people you won’t be bagging yourself a PB (unless you’re MO FARRAH) but you will have an amazing day that you’ll remember for a very long time. So thank you Newcastle, South Shields, my fab walking family and WTW……..See you next year!!




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