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Sunday, 10 September 2017

Great North Run

On Saturday L and I head up to Newcastle, via a parkrun in Sheffield, as you do. Daughter joins us and the two them, not me, run the Sheffield Castle parkrun. I’m saving my calves for tomorrow.

We arrive by train and then get the Sheffield tram. It all goes very well at what is a small, friendly, parkrun where they let us make our own coffee and serve Jaffa Cakes.

Then Daughter head back home to earn her trainers (e.g. to dog sit) while we hop on a train to Newcastle. First class obviously.

That also goes well and we arrive too early for the hotel, called the Rooms Inn, and have to loiter at the coffee shop in the nearby Discovery Museum until they’ll let us check in. Even then they’re not ready, claiming to have been let down by their laundry people.

Once checked in, we head to find the pasta party, which is no longer held at the finish line where we expected it to be, where it was fifteen years ago, but apparently it hasn’t been there for years. Who knew? That will teach us to read the race information.

While we are in the wrong place, South Shields, we eat at a decent pub called the Marine. The food is good and the beer decent too. Yes I have a couple of pints. Good hydration is important obviously.

The next day we are near enough to walk to the start which saves a lot of hassle with the Metro etc, which I’m sure will be busy. Then amazingly we bump into some people we know and the Elite women’s coach almost bumps into us.

Then we part to go to our respective start points. The race starts at 10:40am and I get to cross the start line at 10:45am, L who is further back doesn’t get to start until 11:10am. By which point Mo Farah is long gone. In fact before I am even half way around they are announcing that he has won, smart a***.

The route, of course, goes from Newcastle to South Shields via the Tyne Bridge. The on course support is, as expected, amazing but (whisper it quietly) I was a bit disappointed with the route, it’s just not that scenic... the bridge is good but isn’t it tiny! I was surprised. Blink and you’ve missed it but you can’t missed the Red Arrows who flew across overhead as we crossed.  

There was a very welcome beer stop at 10 miles provided by Newcastle Hash House Harriers but, again, blink and you’ll miss it. Which I did, so naturally I turned around and went back.  They had beers from several local micro breweries so it was almost a mini beer festival. Perhaps I should have stayed for a couple but I just grabbed a taster from Tyne Bank Brewery and went on my way.

The best bit of the course is probably the end and that's not just because it’s the end. After an uphill section around mile 11 there then comes an evil downhill slope (for those of us with dodgy calves) at 12 miles but having weathered than the final mile long stretch along the sea front is great.

Having looked after my calves all the way around, I start to push it now and they twang at me in protest but they can pack up now if they want. I can crawl from here.

So I finish in one piece and a little while later so too does L. By now I’ve managed to grab a massage and have headed back up the course to cheer L in, who texts me from the finish. So I’ve missed her. We arrange to meet in the beer tent which is filled with tempting real ales. It was fairly quiet when I finished but it’s heaving now, so we shelve that idea and head back to the Marine where we were last night.

The queues for the Metro are huge even after we’ve killed time in the Marine so we head to get the Tyne Ferry instead which will enable us to pick up the Metro on the other side of the river. The queues are probably just as long but at least we are serenaded by a band in the queue.   

We spend the evening out in Newcastle. First a few beers at the Bodega, then we get a Sunday lunch and more beers in the Pleased To Meet You. All in all a good day and a good night.

We head back home the next day. I am keen to get back for dog training but it’s cancelled as no one else can make it. L is keen to get back to her running club where Daughter is doing her first full 5K non-stop. L runs too, which I didn’t think was a good idea... not that I’m saying she’s overdoing it or anything. 

(Sunday 10th September)

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