The BUPA Great North Run is the world’s most popular half marathon. This year’s run took place on Sunday 16 September and the Newcastle University swimming and water polo teams took part on behalf of the Myles Robinson Memorial Trust.
The course covers 13.1 miles from Newcastle, going over the famous Tyne bridge, to the picturesque coastal finish in South Shields. Live music from ‘bands on the run’ kept runners motivated every step of the way.
The runners arrived with high emotions, nerves, excitement and judging by a couple of them (Mutley, Dolmio)… low physical preparation. Assembling on the grassy bank outside Exhibition Park provided optimum exposure to the thousands of other participants herding towards the start line. Attention was immediately gained upon revealing of the infamous Toon Army Turbos, to a chorus of jests and wolf whistles in the background which only enhanced anticipation for the race to begin. Even Lauren ‘Keeno’ Wilson stepped up for the ladies to run in her swimming costume. It was not long before Sky Tyne Tees were enticed towards the group for a quick interview with veteran members Tom ‘Billy’ Connolly and Gordon ‘Gordo’ Pearson. (http://tyneandwear.sky.com/news/article/39332)
Any pre match nerves were dissipated by a high 5 from Olympic legends Mo Farah and Ellie Simmonds at the start line. The adrenaline kicks in but the greatest aid of all is from the support of the crowd. The generosity of the people lining the streets, especially in the affluent area of Gateshead, is overwhelming even if you don’t need the digestive biscuit that you’ve had thrust into your hand. The 13 mile route is perilous and fraught with danger, but the tremendous support from the crowd gives you a genuine lift. One prominent banner portrays the powerful words “You are made of pride not pain”.
Everyone has different experiences of the Great North Run as there’s so much to take in. Although it is certain that the last three miles are painful, even for those who do enjoy running. The finishing straight in the picturesque coastal town of South Shields is lined with supporters and you feel like an athlete as you power home. Gordo’s ageing legs struggled this year, which allowed Billy to power away at the end to take reign as leading male champion. But the Best Legs award goes to Annie ‘Orphan’ Byrne, who got the fastest time with 1.36.30. A truly phenomenal run, and it is of no surprise that the fastest three participants from the club all have beautiful ginger hair. After the race the walk from the finish line to meeting point is rather embarrassing between the spanks and heckles, but you know that you have achieved something special. It really is a lifetime experience and an honour to run for such a splendid charity.
Newcastle University Swimming & Water Polo team photo
Jiyan Darabi, Fraser Frost-Pennington, Mark Emilio Gabriele, Gordon Pearson, Stephen Moulton, Tom Connolly, (Tom Watkinson, friend of the club)
Annie Byrne, Laura Gawrylo, Lauren Wilson, Lauri Simkiss