My alarm went off on my phone. I pressed snooze.
My alarm went off on my phone. I considered pressing snooze again, but though it’d be best to get up and ready for the run. I had a quick shower, then got my kit on and went downstairs to where Martyn was getting his shoes on. I put the kettle on and made us both a coffee, and then some instant porridge. I knew that I needed to eat because I wouldn’t have chance before about half 12, so I tried to force the porridge down but it wasn’t happening. I think I had about 3 mouthfuls. The coffee was a big help though! Martyn ate his porridge and a banana. Greedy git.
We got on the Metro to Gateshead Station and talked tactics. We both agreed that getting to the end would be a good idea, and so decided to take the run at a nice steady pace. No point sprinting off into the distance if you have to walk the rest of the way. I was a bit nervous, but also excited for my first ever run. More and more people in running gear and race numbers got on the Metro at each stop, and all those that made eye contact gave a little nod or a smile. It was the friendliest train ride I’ve ever been on.
We arrived at the station. Not knowing which direction to go in, we did what anyone would do and followed the crowd. On the walk down we got talking to a nice bloke from Newcastle who said that he’s done this and most other Great Runs for the past few years for charity. I made a mental note of his number so that I could check his time after the race, but forgot it.
We made our way down past the stadium which would act as the finishing line, went and used the toilet, then had a look around. There were loads of people already milling about, some looking nervous, some looking excited, and one dressed as a giant rabbit. “What ever happens,” I said to Martyn, “We have to finish in front of that Rabbit.” There was a clown too, and he must’ve had about 20 finishers medals around his neck. He was trying to get the crowd worked up by shouting ‘Oggy Oggy Oggy’, but only a few people shouted back so he gave that up quite quickly. It’s not easy being a clown I guess.
Picked up a free bottle of Powerade from the powerade stand and they said that if we get weighed before and after the run, we get a free Powerade sports bottle. Both agreed, so went on the scales and got measured. I was exactly the same weight before and after the run, which they said was good because it meant that I had been drinking properly on the course. They mentioned some other stuff too, but I was only there for my free sports bottle so didn’t pay much attention. Went to the toilet again.
The group warm up session was about to begin when Martyn said that he needed the toilet again. I asked if he was joking, because we’d been twice already and he said ‘We’ve been twice already, but could still do with going.’ We left our place in the line up, went to the toilet, came back and got into our section again but a bit further back and then did a bit of warm up.
The first wave of runners were off. A few minutes later so were the next wave, and then the next. After each wave we all moved closer and closer to the start line and Martyn said he needed the toilet again so I ignored him. The Rocky theme tune was playing as we approached to pump us up, and everyone around us had a smile on their face. The Rabbit was stood right in front of me.
We were off! The chip on my trainer pipped as we passed over the start line, and I was ready to run. It took a minute or so for everyone to go from a mass huddle to getting into their own space where they could start to run at their own pace. As I thought, a few people sprinted off around the corner as fast as they could but we were sticking to the plan and going steady. There was a slight hill to start with, and as we approached the 1km sign there was a woman who was out of breath and had slowed down to a walk. As we passed I heard her say ‘I’m not running all the way.’ Not sure if she meant all the way to the end, or all the way to the first kilometre sign, but I thought it best not to ask.
We chatted quite a bit as we were running, careful not to trip or be tripped as we went. I was suprised that we seemed to be over taking quite a lot of people, but as we were in the last wave of runners, it’s not like we passed any olympians. I was keeping track of the kilometre markers that we passed against my watch to see if I could guess some sort of finishing time. The 1st marker we passed in 6 minutes, which put us on an hour run. Obviously we’d started steady and didn’t expect to keep this pace for the whole route, but it was a good feeling. When we got to the 3km marker, we were on 18minutes, still running 6 minutes a km. Not bad!
There were a few hills and a few ups and downs on the run, but we hadn’t encountered anything too difficult as of yet. As we got to the top of the steepest hill so far, I noticed that Martyn had dropped back. I looked behind and he was walking a bit, but quickly caught up. I asked if he was OK, and he said he was, so we carried on. A few minutes later, he’d gone again. I waited for him and he told me that his knee was playing up. (He’d injured it a couple of years back after tripping over a cobble when tipsy.) He looked in pain so we walked a minute or so, then picked up the pace again. We were nowhere near the first to have a little walk so we weren’t bothered. We passed a bloke who was doing the run in jeans and with a coat tied around his waist, so knew we wouldn’t be last.
We were now doing about 80% running and 20% walking. It helped us both, because it meant that Martyn didn’t have to strain his knee too much and also that I could have a breather without saying I needed a breather. We’d run along the side of the river and under the bridges that pass into Newcastle. Picking up a bottle of water each, in the distance we could see the turn around point and the 5km marker. ‘Look!’ I said. ‘Halfway done! Almost back now!’ My enthusiasm was soon downtrodded though, because as we were running TOWARDS the turn around point, coming AWAY from the turn around point, and a good five minutes in front, was the Rabbit. ‘Bastard.’ I said.
We’d gone past the turn around and had my name shouted my a radio bloke on a loudspeaker. I was feeling quite good about the race, now that we were on the home stretch. We were still walking a bit but we were still running more. The sun had come out for a bit and so we were very happy to see a shower stand set up in the road that you could run under. We decided to walk under instead of run, to get as refreshed as we could. A bit further on there were a couple of hills which we got up, and as we rounded the corner we ran past quite a lot of people cheering on the runners and waving and clapping. I didn’t wave back or anything though, because I didn’t want to look like a tit.
I figured by looking at the markers and keeping track of time, that we would be able to finish somewhere around 1 hour 10 minutes. Before the race, we said we’d be happy with 1 hour 20, so we were pleased. Even better than that though, was that we were getting closer and closer to the Rabbit. I was planning to say something clever like ‘I bet you’re bunny boiling in that suit’ or something, but couldn’t get the words straight in my head. Decided to just overtake him instead.
We approached the last hill in the race, and though it wasn’t a long one, it was quite steep. They were playing ‘Hearts on Fire’ from Rocky IV so I said to Martyn that we should run up the hill. Suprisingly, he ran off at a right pace and started sprinting up, so I followed, running as fast as I could. Even more suprising was when I looked to my right, there was a lad that was ALSO sprinting up the hill. I only sprinted because Martyn did, and I’m guessing that the lad just wanted to join in. Bit weird. Anyway, at the top we were gasping for breath and I said to Martyn ‘Why did you sprint?!’
‘Because you shouted ‘RUN!’
‘No I didn’t, I said we should run up the hill like Rocky, not that we should sprint!’
‘Who shouted RUN then?’
‘I have no idea, it wasn’t me.’
We were back on the road where we started the run, and the barriers had been changed so that it lead into the Gatehead stadium instead of where we ran at the start. The course finished on the track, which meant that you did almost a full lap on the running track of the stadium in front of the crowds in the stands. It felt good, and I was so chuffed that we were about to finish. From our side of the track I could see the Timer above the finish line and realised that we were VERY close to finishing in just under 1 hour 10 minutes. I shouted to Martyn that we should run to make sure, and we did. We both crossed the line at exactly the same time and headed straight for the people handing out water, then for the people handing out the T-Shirts and Medals.
Our official finishing time was 01:08:53.