Great North Run 2014 – Our Review
“I was having a tough time along John Reed Road and then thought, ‘My father wouldn’t be complaining’ and so carried on.” (Stan Snowball jnr, whose father Stan died of MND in June)
It was a tough Run this year. A hot day in one of the hottest Septembers on record. Runners suffered. Many experienced runners took minutes longer than they had last year.
And so we salute, with even more feeling this year, all those who took part in aid of the MND cause. In particular we salute those who battled against injury or illness to complete the course.
Paula Maguire did the Run clad in a Disney-style all-over animal suit. She collapsed from dehydration at the Finish. Happily she recovered quickly after treatment and could join the throng at the MNDA tent.
Recent knee operations and reconstructions didn’t stop Cherry Ann Lusha. Jinny McDermott ran with both knees strapped for support.
And there was an array of splinted and bandaged arms and of runners suffering pulled muscles and chest and back problems on the road.
For all the difficulties with heat, aching limbs and tired feet, many were still able to greet our roadside paparazzo (Ken Durose) with a smile. Some were almost ecstatic:
Others were a little more restrained:
while Margaret Colenutt gave us her ‘Angel of the North’ impression.
At the end of last year’s GNR, Gary Smith was taken to hospital with acute appendicitis. But he was here and happy to see us again this year:
There was of course no shortage of those who were both very fast and very fit. Our first runner home was James Allinson, clocking the superb time of 1 hr 24 mins 36 secs:
He was followed in by Martin Owen (1.30.10), Max Applegarth (1.32.13), Rhydian Roberts (1.32.54) and Robbie Livermore (1.33.39):
Our first three women to arrive – Rachel Wilson (1.41), Catherine Williamson (1.43) and Lizzy Roebuck (1 45) were all running their first GNR. Rachel, from Cumbria, is a speech therapist who sees many people with MND in the course of her work. Catherine was running with her sister Anne. Lizzy, from Guisborough, was running in memory of her grandmother:
In contrast to Rachel, Catherine and Lizzy, Alan Armstrong was running his 28th GNR (though it was was his first for MND), Keith Hall runnng his 23rd GNR (5th for MND) and Ted Ferguson his 22nd GNR. With his time of 1.45 Ted Ferguson ranked 5th in the GNR overall listings for his age group and Keith Hall, being slowed down by a pulled muscle, was ranked 15th in the same group with his time of 2.04.
On arrival, Ted Ferguson took the Ice-Bucket Challenge. Well, it’s one way of cooling down on a hot day:
Among the other gentlemen of mature years was George Jennings. He nipped round in 2hr 1 min. A minute longer than last year.
Some were returning to the GNR after a long gap. This was Jill Gardiner’s first since 2001 and it is 18 years since Phil Burrows last appeared here. He was delighted to achieve a faster time now (1.50) than he did as a callow youth.
Conversely, some have been racking up impressive track records of consistent appearance for MND at the GNR. This was Christine Baker’s 9th consecutive GNR for MND. She has run in memory of her mother every year since 2006. It was Douglas and Judith Scarfe’s 8th Run for MND, running in memory of a friend, Tim Lester, who died of MND in 2009.
As always, groups played a big part in the day. Two wheelchair groups were particularly prominent.
Jacqui Bishop radiated star quality as she laughed and smiled with infectious enjoyment as she was pushed along by her father John Emery, her sister Dawn and other members of her family.
Team Orrick was not going to be outshone. Dad, Tom Orrick, was propelled by various members of his extended family and waved regally to the crowds along the route. The team seemed to have brought along half their community to give support and Tom stood amid a large cluster of his nearest and dearest for the photographs.
There were other big groups too.
‘The Julies’ were a team of nine comprising Laura and Aimée Hutchinson together with Catherine Hayes, Emma Bartle (flown in from Australia), Hannah Ogden, Lorna Dunsire (she of the broken arm), Anna Heaton, Ben Alexander and Bradley Spencer.
The Harkness family team was running because Dad Harkness was diagnosed with MND two years ago. He was there to cheer them along the way and would be meeting them in the pub afterwards.
Two other groups were on the road in strength. Lisa Mann ran alone last year but this time she was joined by Vicky Mann, Laura McBrien, Toke Myers and Lucy Meek. They expect to have raised around £4,000 between them. And there was the team of five comprising Rachel Mills, Erin Roxburgh, Collette Meller, Michelle McArthur and Simon Campbell.
The distinctive face of footballer, the late Adam Peacock, was shown on the shirt of Jean Peacock. His memory was also honoured by Emma Hutchinson and three other members of Team Peacock.
Alan Irvine, Michael Joisce and others were raising funds for the Scott Bell Fund, in memory of footballer the late Scott Bell of Blyth Spartans.
Among the smaller family groups there were parent and offspring teams galore. There was George Orton and his two little boys, Edward and Roland:
Several of the other parent/offspring teams each managed to stay together the whole Run. Thus Lauren and Jim Bourke both recorded 2 hr 4 min and Edward and Freddie Brown both finished in 2.06
while Andrew and Stan Snowball came in together at 1.59. How’s that for displays of family unity!
Identical twins Katie and Reema Ayyash also stayed together the whole course. They crossed the line hand-in-hand to record appropriately identical times.
Fundraising for the fight against MND is of course fundamental to the day. Some runners, perhaps with a range of professional and corporate contacts, are able to raise phenomenal amounts, as Jinny McDermott and her brother have done. For many others, raising £100 is a major effort, especially doing it year after year.
Some of the many special achievements this year include Dan Guy raising £1,000 in memory of his grandad; Sophie Andrews raising a similar amount in memory of her grandma; and Sally Wiseman raising over £2,000 in memory of her dad who died 2 years ago. Andy Spencer raised £1,500.
Team Orton and Team Peacock were each raising around £2,000.
For many of our runners, fundraising is not confined to the GNR. Andrew Snowball bakes chocolate chip cookies. Andrew and Cherry Ann Lusha were throwing a celebration and thank you party after the Run – to raise still further funds. Jayne Halhead has done a skydive and Nicola McDougall has done a whole succession of marathons.
Keith Johnson (Loch Ness and Kielder marathons), David McCauley (Kilimanjaro and many more), Rhydian Roberts (half-marathons a speciality) and Rachael Smith (Yorkshire 3-Peaks and more), are just four among many others for whom fundraising by blood-and-guts physical exertion is an all-year activity.
Our runners and their families are a wonderful set of people playing a vital rôle in the fight against MND. The purpose is deadly serious but so many are able to show that it can be combined with having a great day out and a great sense of achievement and community. It is summed up in this note received from Caroline Schofield:
” I had a great day, loved the challenge and have sent all my cheque sponsorship in last week, well chuffed I smashed my target and got nearly double.”
We leave you with a picture of the undoubted personality of this year’s Run: Jacqui Bishop.
Her message is clear: Laugh in the face of adversity – and be ready to do something about it as well!
~ All roadside photos by Ken Durose
~ All photos at the Finishing Point by Marian Dent
~ Review by AR