Is the Great North Run ACTUALLY great?

I was a spectator at the Great North Run 9 years ago, and at the time (whilst off my face on £2 netto wine with all the other young whippersnappers) I remember thinking, “why would ANYONE want to participate in this?”

Nonetheless, the GNR has been on my bucket list ever since I started running, and I was SO excited to get a place in this year’s ballot. However, as strongly hinted in the title of this post, following on from Sunday I have mixed feelings about the GNR.

The 3 main issues I experienced were as follows:

  1. Starting Pens

I arrived at my allocated start pen with plenty of time – however, the pen was full and therefore blocked off. I was directed to the next pen down, which was also full, and the next, which was also full… I’m still a little perplexed about this. It meant that initially I could not run with my pacer of choice, as he was approximately 86 pens in front of me (a slight exaggeration as always.) Somehow I did manage to catch up with him, but let me tell you this was not an easy task!

  1. The Course

Prior to partaking in the GNR, I read multiple reviews describing the course as ‘really varied.’ Sorry (not sorry) to be rude, but I’m presuming that these bloggers have been paid to say that…

96% of the course is really uninspiring – there, I said it. Essentially, it was one straight road, up until the sea front at the very end of the race. I understand that the course is set out this way in order to accommodate the sheer volume of runners, and in general this works very well. However, I can’t pretend that I’m not disappointed by how dull the course was.

  1. Post-race mayhem

I was completely aware that the GNR was going to be incredibly crowded; with 57,000 runners and 172782342* spectators, that goes without saying! However, I did not expect to queue for 3 hours (this is actually not an exaggeration) to travel from the event village back to the car.

The fact that the race had a very late start (10:40am) added to the general mayhem; by the time we got back to the car it was too late to drive back to London so we had to stop off overnight.

That being said, the atmosphere really was FANTASTIC; there is something very special about being part of the world’s biggest half marathon. The locals were great, the pacers were great, the event village was great, the red arrows were great etc.

Would I do the GNR again? Yes, absolutely. Do I think the GNR is great? Based on my 2018 GNR experience, no I do not – HOWEVER, I think it has the potential to be great.

What are your views on the Great North Run? Please do let me know!

*Obviously I made this number up. Just a little FYI

Thoughts on training plans & the Great North Run

It may seem unusual to post about a race the week before race day, but I wanted to touch on something that is of great importance to me.

I am ever so excited to be racing the Great North Run on 9th September and have been looking forward to this race for many months! However, unlike other races, this is the first time that I have not followed a rigid training plan, and I would like to explain why.

Looking back on my training for Brighton Marathon, I took it very seriously; I stopped drinking, my nutrition was absolutely on point, and I declined invitations to a variety of social events that I really wanted to attend.

I don’t regret doing this, and I will certainly be following a structured plan when training for my first ultra and London Marathon. I am more than happy to dedicate 16 weeks per year to this lifestyle, as I thrive off fully committing to a set goal. However, for me, this just isn’t a sustainable way of living long term.

I want to emphasise that I think a fantastic personality trait is having the motivation to commit to goals (both fitness and non-fitness related) that require time and dedication. I know that some may view this kind of behaviour as ‘obsessive’*, and this is a comment that has been made to me on many occasions by Hortencia and others. However, Hortencia is a narrow-minded moron, therefore quite frankly their opinion is irrelevant to me.

My ‘training’ for the Great North Run has been fairly flexible and highly enjoyable. With a summer full of birthdays, weddings, and various other celebrations, my weekends have consisted of a healthy mixture of running, wine and lots of cake. I have not turned down a single (important) social event, because no race or long run is more important than spending time with my friends and loved ones.

Moving forward, if (realistically, when) my training starts to genuinely interfere with my general lifestyle, I will be treating this as a warning sign. I must admit that I do feel hypocritical writing this, as honestly, I find it SO difficult to take a step back when I have set my mind to something.

As always, it would be so interesting to hear your thoughts on this (unless you’re one of the Hortencia’s) – please do get in touch!

*I am not referring to exercise addiction here. That is, of course, a completely different kettle of fish, and there is sometimes a fine line between being a dedicated runner vs. addiction.