With over 57,000 runners taking to the streets of Newcastle each year, the Great North Run is definitely up there in the Hall of Half Marathon Fame.
Every level of runner is represented, with high-octane athletes such as Mo Farah, complete beginners setting themselves the challenge of a lifetime in memory or support of a loved one or in the interests of fitness progression, regular runners looking for the next bit of bling on the medal board and event celebrities such as the man who carries a 42kg fridge on his back every year.
I am very excited to be among the 57,000 in 2018, but this certainly wouldn’t have been the case a couple of years ago. An avid couch potato, my idea of exercise involved walking to the kitchen to make yet another cup of tea and the mere thought of running anything more than a bath pretty much brought on full-blown asthma attacks.
Then something changed
I’m not sure exactly what prompted the decision, but I found myself committing to start the Couch to 5k programme from the NHS. The first few weeks were tough, with wobbly legs, dodgy breathing and plenty of moments where I would be shouting at myself and scaring passers-by, but week by week, the improvements kept coming.
Within a year, I was taking on my first half marathon (in Plymouth, not exactly known for its flat terrain) and have recently set my sights on marathon distance; more about this in another blog! (Some things never do change though – my tea consumption is still through the roof.)
Bring on the North!
As the Events Fundraiser looking after Meningitis Now’s Great North Run teams for the last two years, I have experienced first-hand – albeit slightly jealously from the non-running side of the fence – the sheer electricity of excitement and achievement that far outweighs that of any other race I’ve run in. There is something special about the Great North Run – it’s probably the most well known race in the UK after the London Marathon, with nearly double the amount of participants, enormous numbers of spectators and spontaneous appearances from the Red Arrows. Runners I’ve spoken to after the race have regaled stories of excellent Northern generosity, with all kinds of snack offers along the route from the usual Jelly Babies and orange segments, to cake, pizza and beer.
Just to top it all off, Team Meningitis Now are all welcomed to a post-race reception in the Charity Village, so once our runners cross the finish line to a triumphant applause and the highly coveted bling, a lovely cup of tea or coffee, sweet and salty snacks and a very much deserved leg massage all await as they relax in the knowledge that their incredible efforts are helping us to make a difference to the lives of those affected by meningitis.
Even if you’ve never run before, now is the perfect time to set your sights on the most incredible 13.1 miles around. You’ll be really well supported all the way, both by our fab Events team and through our Great North Run Facebook page for all Meningitis Now runners, and you’ll definitely be the envy of the many thousands that don’t make it through the ballot in February.
So go on; join Team Meningitis Now for the 2018 Great North Run – you’ve got this!