How did I get the idea:
The idea to run the busiest half marathon of the world came through the English forum: Shoerepairer.inf, a site for cobblers/shoemakers from all over the world but started by a English cobbler, Lee Ffrench.
On this forum some cobblers got the idea to loose weight by running and some of them put the goal to it, to finally be able to run the Great North Run.
In no time there were 7 English shoemakers in this group, only one with running-experience. (He did the Ironman!)
I was asked to join the team, because Lee allready knew I was the Running Cobbler from the Netherlands. Ofcourse I wanted to do that and finally meet some English colleague in real live.
I think all the running events in the UK are full in no time and the only way to get a ticket now is by running for a charity. Even if there is place for 54.000 runners in this world largest half marathon, there is a ballot for the tickets.
I made a quick desision: Just like Lee running for the Make A Wish UK foundation.
After contacting them I got a nice trainingshirt allready.
Through the forum I could help the starting runners. Nice to see you can help and motivate them.
After a short period the runners became addicted runners.
Hotel arranged by Lee en a ticket for the flight booked. Leaving on saterday afternoon so I can work in the morning. Two weeks later I would be running the Coast Marathon on saterday, so my wife Anja should be running the shop for two saterdays on her own. Not a good idea.
Special training for the Great North Run was really not necessary, because I train all the year. And a marathon in only two weeks after the GNR.
To Great Brittain:
Flying to the UK is a fast way to travel. My English colleague, Lee from Lowesoft in Suffolk, just above Harwich, was traveling by train to Newcastle and at the end he was travelling a half hour longer then I did!
In Newcastle on a hurry to the Expo, to see if could score some shirts for my daughters. And I did, three nice running shirts from the GNR. They wear them on school at the gym.
After the expo trying to find the hotel. After a short walk, a bustrip and a ride in a cab, I got to the hotel.
A clean shirt and up to the pub where Lee and a couple other runners and their family allready gathered.
Nice to meet them in real live after only contact through the forum. We did a drink (non-alcoholic) and a pasta-meal.
It is very difficult to understand what they all were saying: They are coming from all around the UK and sometimes they couldn't understand each other, so for me a extra problem because my English is not so very well.
After the meal we went to the hotel to make the stuf ready for the next morning and get to bed early.
To the start:
Around 8 on the morning of the race we gathered in the lobby of the hotel to travel by mini-van to the start. While we were waiting a sirene went of. The lady of the reception was running around and after a short while other guests came out of there rooms. Some of them in there underwear or the put some clothes on in a hurry. It seemd to be the fir-alarm. Nothing to see or smell!
When our bus arrived we got in and on the moment we want to leave a fire-truck arrived at the hotel with sirenes and lights!
Leaving the fireman and the other guests there we left with our mini-van to the start.
After a short trip the taxi stopped on the shoulder of the highway. Huh? Is he kidding? Nothing to see here. But he explained the he couldn't stop closer to the start and we have to walk for 5 minutes besides the highway to reach the start that was situeted on the highway.
The Great North Run:
The assembly area on the highway, just only 1 kilometer long, two sides of the guardrail. Yes, they need a lot of space to put 54.000 runners in.
A quick picture just before we all got in the right assembly-zone, not everyone was in the same zone.
This tame the bagage was not put in trucks but in one of the double decker busses. Something else for a change.
I was lucky to start in zone B, just behind the elite athletes. By the big screens in every zone you could follow what was happening around us: Interviews with other runners, the special song for everyone who was running in dedication of some-one, the start of the wheelers and the female runners.
Just two minutes before the start of the elite man and the big crowd there was a fly by from the Red Arrows! Yeah, what a great moment.
Just 30 seconds after the starting-signal I was passing the starting line, so far in front I was.
The first miles were going much to fast, I didn't have problems wit the crowd. The route was until halfway on the large way, both sides of the guardrail. And behind the halfway point there was also room enough for all runners.
What a party down the road: Everywere shouting people, musicbands playing en a fabulous atmosphere.
Just after halfway I concluded this wasn't the place to run a PB. Especialy the partly uphill route decided me to enjoy the rest of the race.
I was running on the side of the road, giving high-fives to the public.
Unfortunately it started raining in the last 2 miles and not a little bit.
But the public put up their umbrella's and shouted extra to the runners.
I passed the finishline in 1:47'44", 6 minutes above my PB, but who cares?
After the finish on my way to the Finisher Bags with the medal, a finisher-shirt and the usual stuf like drinks and something to eat.
On my way to the bagage-bus a was stopped by two lovely girls from Make A wish UK. They congratuleted me with finishing the GNR and showed me the way to the CharityVillage with the MAW-tent. But I decided to go to the bus first to put on some dry clothes.
Back to the Charity Village and I was welcomed with a applause from the MAW volunteers.
A drink, something to eat and a perfect massage was what I got from them. TOP!
The volunteers were all surprised I cam all the way from the Netherlands to run the GNR for the Make A wish foundation.
Soon the other runners from the Forum-team who collected money for MAW arrived.
A massage was also in their package:
After a while, we walked to the bus and went back to the hotel.
In the hotel a shower and some rest. Lee send me a text-message that we were meeting in the pub from last night. Earlier than we arranged, I think they were all very thirsty.
After a few drinks we crossed the street to go to the restaurant, Thank God It's Friday, for a good meal and some more drinks.
The evening ended with some Jaeger-Bombs, but I passed. (I don't like RedBull)
After such a nice weekend it's also nice to go back home. With Lee a walked the next morning to the station where I took the bus to Newcastle Centre. Some shopping for presents for the lady's at home.
And on my way to the airport by metro and flying back home to the Netherlands.
If I get the chance I will be back next year, together with the other Running Cobblers!
They asked me if I had a large house because they want to come to the Netherlands to do a run here.
No problem, my house is big enough and there are plenty of runs to do here. Hope we can arrenge that some time!
I want to thank Lee, Mark, Annette, Dean, Jay, Gavin, Stuart and all the other people for a great weekend!
I enjoyed it very much and hope to meet you all again sometimes somewhere!
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