Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Mrs Tnfive Runs With Mo Farah

The Great North Run 2013, where (strictly speaking) Mrs Tnfive ran with (ok, behind!) Mo Farah

Newcastle's Tyne Bridge on the eve of the Great North Run

So, the morning I had been anticipating with dread was finally here. Sunday 15th September 2013, the day of the Great North Run. I eagerly pulled back the curtains to reveal a grey, wet, miserable Newcastle dawn. Typical! The previous evening had been calm, dry and beautiful. It was clear that the make-shift poncho I had fashioned from a black bin liner was going to be utilised. 

The start line was a good 2 mile walk away from my hotel, so I was going to need some calorific fueling to see me through my day. Being the serious athlete that I am (er hmmm) I had packed a pot of porridge and a banana for brekkie, all to be washed down with a glug of energy drink and a Mars bar. I know, that sounds really bad doesn't it?  Black bin bag in hand and an extra Mars bar for luck, I set off at 8:30am to follow the herds of runners to the starting point.

On arrival at the slip road which led down to the A167 I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people that had turned out to take part - some 56,000 of us. I had a long walk to my starting pen as I was near the back of the throng of runners that were slowly filling up the dual carriageway. As I filed past the faster runners who were nearer to the start I noticed a familiar looking face and after a few seconds of racking my brains to remember where I'd seen him before, I realised that it was in fact former Olympic athlete Colin Jackson preparing for an interview.

Former athlete Colin Jackson

No sign of Mo at this stage however, but I'm pretty sure he won't have had to stand in the rain for over an hour. Nor will he have had to queue up with the rest of us to use the portaloos! (If you're reading this Mo, please feel free to correct me).  As the starting pens filled up, an air of nervous excitement began to descend. Not long now 'til the off! Discarded water bottles rattled around the tarmac in the breeze and bin bags floated through the air like black plastic kites. I wasn't the only one who had made herself a fetching refuse sack poncho that morning!

Suddenly a flurry of movement up ahead heralded the start of the mass warm-up and before I knew it I was calf stretching and ankle twizzling with the rest of the herd. The enthusiastic fitness instructor on the big screen was interrupted only by the BBC coverage of the elite athletes' starts - big names in athletics such as David Weir, Priscah Jeptoo and Haile Gebrselassie. Inevitably, the biggest cheer of the day was reserved for the one and only Mo Farah. I'm glad he got a head start because I wouldn't have wanted to show him up by speeding past him. (In my dreams!)

With the elites underway, the rest of us mere mortals began to slowly shuffle inch by inch towards the start line. Those among the crowd whose bladders could no longer contain themselves were climbing the barriers and legging it up the embankments at an alarming rate. Many a tree had a watering that's for sure! Not me though, I was raring to go and there was no stopping me as I inched towards the big blue starting gates.

Ponchos at dawn

Like a flock of sheep being herded by a sheepdog, we all ran through the gates and off down the dual carriageway in the direction of the Tyne Bridge. So many onlookers were lining the streets shouting words of encouragement, and as we all ran through our first tunnel the echoing calls of 'oggy oggy oggy, oi oi oi' were truly uplifting.

I won't bore you with a blow by blow account of every single step along the way, but before I fast forward to the end of the race I just want to reiterate the point about support and encouragement. For all those people who lined the streets, for all those giving a friendly wave or an encouraging smile, and for all those friends and family who had wished us well prior to the race, I just want to say thank you, and that you will never ever know how much your support means to us sweaty, red faced runners. Without you we would surely want to throw in the towel at mile one. Thank you.

Ooh, I'm getting all emotional now! Better do a quick fast forward.........

So, the end of the run was approaching and my legs were burning and chafing (thank you St John's Ambulance for the vaseline!) and the thought of running any further was becoming quite torturous. Until.........the Red Arrows put in an appearance! Roaring overhead they put on a spectacular display of aerobatics, trailing red, white and blue smoke in their wake.

The Red Arrows soar above the Tyne Bridge
near the start of the Great North Run

I could barely take my eyes off them as we ran up the steady incline of the A1300. In fact, they were such a welcome distraction that before I knew it I was nearing the brow of the hill and then joy of joys.....my first glimpse of the sea! Not only that but a huge flashing sign with 'Last mile' lit up like a Christmas tree. What a relief. At that point euphoria began to kick in and I felt so happy I could have almost sprinted that final stretch of the race. 

I might have come in a paltry 33,384th but as I crossed that line I would like to bet that I felt every bit as good as the guy who came in 2nd. Mr Mo Farah. And, I even got a medal! Just like him.

Bet he didn't celebrate by stuffing his face with this little lot though.........

Naughty but nice....

By Mrs Tnfive

Love the raincoat!