Monday 3 October 2011

Great North Run 2011

I had hoped that this year's Great North Run would bring some closure to the events of the Summer in the USA. With so many exciting things going on associated with the run there is very little chance of that in the near future, never mind at the Great North Run.

I was so grateful to Nova for giving me number 3100 in recognition of the number of miles I ran across the USA. They labelled it as a “Lap of Honour” and that’s exactly how it felt from start to finish.

On the way to the start line I spoke to Anna Foster live on Metro Radio. Of course, I’d only met her for the first time at the Leisureworks Sports awards. She’s the kind of person that you feel like you’ve known for ages and I really enjoyed talking to her.

I arrived at the start area of the Great North Run at 0745 where another Anna Foster was waiting to talk to me. This Anna from BBC Radio 5 Live was just as lovely as the other one. The interview went out just after 8 am.

I managed to have another good chat with Mark Robson, Sir Bobby Robson’s son.  He’d also been talking to 5 live. If there’s one thing I’ve found out about the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation this week it’s the reason why it was set up as it was by Sir Bobby. It is an NHS charity, making use of already existing staff, administrators and facilities. That’s the way Sir Bobby Robson and his family wanted it, meaning that the funds raised go to the exact place that they should; funding the reasearch and treatment of cancer.

The next interview was with Jonathan Edwards. The third Team GB Olympian I've met this year after Chris Cook and Stephen Miller. This was a brief interview that was shown during the live BBC coverage of the run.

Olympians, it seems, are like buses. Soon after I'd met Jonathan Edwards, it was brilliant to meet another team GB member and one of my good supporters of the run a cross the USA; boxer Tony Jeffries. Regular readers will remember that Tony was training in LA at the time when I started running across the USA. He drove to see me off but was too late having gone to a different pier in LA. The support that he subsequently gave me via Twitter and in his column in the Sunday Sun was first class though. 

Speaking of good support, it was nice to meet up with another good supporter of Run Geordie Run; George Caulkin. George writes for The Times and is a patron of The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. 

After speaking to George I was asked to meet a group of runners who were raising funds for MacMillan Cancer Support. I passed on some "words of wisdom" which I doubt they needed as they looked like an experienced and fit bunch. 

It was a busy old time in the start area of the Great North Run. I'd been on site for over 2 hours but the time flew by with so many people to talk to.

Last but not least to meet and have my photo taken with, was former Miss GB, Sophie Gradon. Sophie,  from Newcastle, was running to raise funds for Sara's Hope Foundation which is a charity "…...inspired by the late Sara Hoburn, runs a holiday retreat in Crete offering respite for children and young people with cancer and their families.".

As the start of the 31st Great North Run drew closer I met my "chaperone" for the day; Paddy. It was his repsonsibility to see me round the course safely and to try and get me to finish as close to my target time of 2 hours. Also accompanying me was David Fairlamb who ran last year's run in 01:30:00. I really couldn't fail with these 2 setting the pace. Also joining us at the start was Anna Foster from Metro Radio and Philippa Tomson from ITV.

It was a frantic start to the run with thousands of runners in the zones behind soon overtaking. I saw a nasty collision in the first mile. I do hope that the girl I saw getting injured was ok in the end. The image of her stayed with me throughout the run.

We soon lost Anna but Philippa stayed with us for 4 miles or so. It felt very strange running with thousands of people around me. It was a far cry from the lonely miles in the USA.

I managed to spot Alison from the Cradlewell Clinic for a quick wave on the Tyne Bridge. I was wished "Well done" throughout the race by so many people. This was the most pleasing aspect of the day for me and just added to the "lap of honour" feel to the day.

I stopped at the 6 mile point to talk to yet another Olympian; Denise Lewis. She seemed well briefed about my run and wished me luck for the future event. It was an absolute honour to talk to her.

Another highlight of the day was when I ran through the "Bupa Boost Zone". Justin Lockwood from Real Radio was on hand to "big me up" and it gave me a heck of a spring in my step.

I got to the finish line in 01:59:06. It was easily the most comfortable half marathon I've ever ran. Paddy and Dave had been great company. I didn't have to do much thinking with Paddy setting the required 2 hour pace.

I stopped to talk to Phil Jones from the BBC at the finish line. Phil had recorded a piece that was broadcast during the live Great North Run coverage. It was an excellent 3 minute showcase of the run across the USA. I was very pleased that my trusty Brooks Glycerin shoes were shown during the piece. Millions of people will have seen that.

There were a lot of familiar faces in the hospitality tent and it was nice to share stories of how the run went. I said goodbye to Paddy who'd done a brilliant job of seeing me round the course safely and on time. I could get quite used to having a chaperone! 

I chatted to Simon Pryde (below) from BBC Total Sport who had been running, cycling and kayaking across Scotland the day before running the Great North Run. What an effort!

Thanks to the BBC for some excellent coverage; Opening titles, interviews with Jonathan Edwards and Denise Lewis and the 3 minute piece by Phil Jones. All in all, my 10th Great North Run, while not my fastest, had arguably been my most enjoyable. Being congratulated by so many random people all the way round the route was very special. Meeting so many Olympians was very special too. 

Finally, thanks to Nova for giving me number 3100 and making the run a true "lap of honour'.

Saturday 1 October 2011

Can't wait to try these….

Coming in October to a specialist running shop near you….. The Brooks Pure Connect. They truly are a thing of beauty. When I first saw this model I thought "I've just got to have a pair of those".

The Pure Connect are like a leaner, meaner version of the shoes I finished the run across the USA in; Brooks Glycerin 9. They are a so called "minimalist" shoe with several interesting features. It goes without saying that I'm a high fan of the Brooks DNA technology that is used in my Glycerin 8 and 9 shoes. I'm curious to know how exactly how that feels in these shoes together with the "Ideal Heel", "Toe Flex" and "Nav Band" technologies.

I'll post a full review on these shoes once I've tried them later this month. They will soon be available from Northern Runner in Newcastle whose blog states "The Brooks Pure Project is Brooks designers answer to minimalist footwear. However, it’s not minimalist. It has Brooks revolutionary MoGo mid sole material combined with DNA cushioning to give it that soft but firm responsive feel that you only get from a Brooks shoe. The Pure Flow has an inverted heel to aid the runner in landing just under their centre of gravity. This is further aided by the heel to forefoot differential being only 4mm. A split toe allows the big toe to act independent of the rest of the foot aiding in balance and allowing a much stronger push off. A flexible band goes around the foot to aid in fit and increase the stability. All these features coupled with Brooks anatomicial last makes the Pure Flow a superb shoe. Delivery is expected in October. These shoes will only be sold through our Newcastle store not online or telephone mail order. So, why not pop along and give them a test drive on our concrete corridor.".

For more information on Brooks Pure Connect and the 3 other models in the Pure Project range please click here.

NE Fit Magazine

If you pop into WH Smiths this month, in the North East, you may see a familiar face among the ranks of magazines. Look out for an interview with Run Geordie Run in NE Fit magazine.

Priced at only £2.99, NE Fit magazine is the North East's only regional health and fitness magazine.