Warming up for the Great North Run

Warming up for the Great North Run

The Great North Run takes place in the North East this weekend. It’s one of my favourite days out. See you on the start line.


It’s that time of year again. Sunday will see 60,000 runners run the 13.1 miles from Newcastle across the iconic Tyne Bridge, through Gateshead to South Shields.

The Great North Run is a huge social event. It’s a festival for Gateshead and Newcastle. If you’ve not run it before, here’s what to expect.

#1 Left luggage

You can leave your gear on luggage buses alongside the start line. They’ll be transported to the finish line during the race. Pick a sturdy and identifiable bag. It’s unlikely to be on the seat where you left it.

#2 Start slow

The race starts on the central motorway in Newcastle. 60,000 people is a huge field. You're a long time in the starting pens; only enter your pen just before they close. You’ve then at least a mile to walk to the start line. You need to stay hydrated but balance that with the need to go to the toilet as the queues are large.

#3 Dodge the weather

The weather forecast for Sunday is sunny with cloud with temperature around 17C. Take an old shirt or t-shirt to wear until you set off running. Discarded clothes along the route are collected and distributed to charities.

#4 It's emotional

The crowds, Red Arrows, dedications on people’s running gear and the Tyne Bridge make for a heart-warming and emotional start. Your adrenalin will surge. Avoid burning too much energy too fast.

#5 Elvis and other musicians

There’s a live band every mile or so to entertain both the runners and the crowds. It adds to the festival feeling, and is possibly the only time you’ll be serenaded by Elvis in the middle of the street in South Tyneside.

#6 Energy boost

Use an energy gel or sweets to maintain energy levels before you think you need them. I usually spend the final five miles being fed by the crowd.

#7 Social occasion

You’ll be passed by people 50 years older than you. It’s inevitable. Talk to people especially if they look knackered, alone or ready to quit. I’ll be extremely grateful. Thank you.

#8 Final stretch is toughest

The climb up John Reid Road at mile nine is as tough as it gets. Keep plenty of energy back as you turn towards South Shields and smell the sea. The last mile is longer than you ever thought possible.

#9 Water stations and sprinkler arches

Don't drink too much water at the start. You'll become one of the thousands stopping for a pee before they reach the Tyne Bridge. There’s water stations and amazing sprinkler arches along the route.

#10 Finishing beer

Grab a pint or two as you head from the finish line to South Shields and then head to Coleman’s for fish and chips. You’ve earnt it.

#11 Spectators and volunteers are a huge sport

The Great North Run is made possible by a small army of volunteers. Thank you all. I plan to join you next year.

The entire route is lined with spectators. Newcastle, Gateshead and the finish at South Shields are popular spots. Shout and cheer. It’s a massive boost to runners.

#12 Returning home

Get the bus, not the Metro, back to Newcastle. It’s much nearer and quicker and you avoid the 1.5 hour queue for the Metro.

#13 Fundraising for the Sunshine Fund

It’s a very special experience. Enjoy it, hate it, celebrate it; it’s a hell of an achievement.

My partner Sarah, my daughter Ellie, and I have raised more than £2,000 over the last couple of years for the Sunshine Fund. It helps buy specialist kit for disabled children in the North East.

This year our boys have picked up the fundraising baton and are running the Mini Great North Run on Saturday before Sarah and I run on Sunday.

We’d really appreciate you support. Thanks to everyone that has donated.

Image credit: The Evening Chronicle.

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