Flying the Flag – our review of the Great North Run 2018

The flag was flown by Dean Halkes and his chair-pushing friends who he calls his Band of Brothers but it was flying on behalf of all our runners and indeed anyone who is living with MND.

Dean and his team did the Brighton Marathon in April this year and there is more about him in the Summer 2018 edition of ‘Thumbprint’ (pages 16-17).

The flag was seen by many thousands of spectators and runners. But it was not the only eye-catching feature of the team.

Less spectacular, perhaps, but equally spirited was our other chair-push – that of Cath Muir and her entourage of Dave Muir and James Muir. Cath gives way to no-one when it comes to vivacity and love of life.

Then there was Team Stevo – the personal tribute squad for ex-rugby player Phil Stephenson. What does it tell you about someone when around 20 people are willing to run a half-marathon on his behalf?  We spotted Andy, Ben, Bob, Chloë, Danny, Dawn, Debbie, George, Jason, Jody, Laura, Matthew, Nick, Paul, Rachel, Tom, Toby and Wendy – and there was probably some we missed.

There were other scene-stealers there as well, when some dads were left holding the baby.  Which mainly shows that infants are not easily impressed by their parents’ athletic exploits.  Here are Baby McDougall, Baby Ross and Baby Hale.

Pleased to see you!

Our paparazzi were again out on the road leading up to the Finish.  They were greeted by many runners as they passed.  Here are just a few: Katherine & Simon Cragg, Susan Seward, David Moore, Sue Beever, Catherine Donnison, Mark Atterbury, Sabrina Beck, Tom Worthy:

Fleet of foot

Three of our runners turned in times of under 1 hr 40 mins.  First in was Greg Hale with the remarkable time of 1 hr 28 minutes.  Our first female finisher was Louise Bell of the Scott Bell Fund. Her time 1 hr 38 mins clipped 2 minutes off her time last year.  David Henderson completed in 1 hr 31mins.

Our returning fast runners mostly produced slightly slower times this year compared with last time but there were exceptions.  Elliot Sykes brought his time down by a minute to 1 hr 41.  Mike Curtis did likewise to record 1 hr 51.  Jak Newby  (1 hr 52) knocked 3 minutes off his old time despite running in an all-enveloping fancy dress costume.
But the prize for improved performance must go to Sarah Mellowdew.  She improved her time by a staggering 42 minutes, from 2 hrs 51 to 2 hrs 9 mins.  No wonder she looks happy!

All dressed up

Apart from an abundance of orange tutus and headbands, fancy dress was less evident this year than usual.  Maybe recent heatwaves have warned runners off taking the risk of overheating and dehydration.  But Alex Wilson, Suzi Carberry, Jak Newby and duo Dan Hayes & Mathew Robson were among those who made a special effort to attract attention.  Last year Dan and Mathew ran as Dumb & Dumber.  This time they were those ace aviators, Dastardly and Muttley.

Love and honour

The Run is overall an upbeat and joyful affair, but we see salutary reminders of the reasons why so many are here.  Various runners carry a dedication to a friend, colleague or loved one who has either died from or is living with MND.  Here are just three of the dedications we noticed.

Joint efforts

Families and friends were well-represented among our runners, whether as of bumper-sized groups such as Team Stevo or in smaller teams or pairs.  Some were familiar faces who are regularly seen here.  Others were welcomed for the first time.

There were parent and offspring pairings, siblings, couples, work colleagues, sports team-mates, etc.  Here are a few of the many:  Alix & Rosalyn, Ann & Kenneth, Becky & Doug, Kelly & Georgia, Diane & Andrew, Nigel & William, Kelly & Faye, Andrew, Sarah, Gemma & Peter and Brian, Roger & Paul.

Solo performance

Equally well-represented among our runners are those brave souls who undertake the Run without the support and companionship of any team or running-mate.  That’s fine if you are an experienced club runner and confident of your abilities and limits.   It’s much more of a challenge if running half-marathons is not your regular weekend hobby and you are dependent solely on yourself for the drive and motivation to get to the Finish.  We particularly salute those wonderful runners for the MND cause who answer to this description and are an inspiration to all of us.  There are many photos we could show here but here are some picked at random:  Angela, Rachel, Julie, Lois, Lydia, John, Sue, Allan and Fern.


Cool, calm and collected

The Run can be hot work.  Alex Woolley found a good way of keeping cool:

But Dean Halkes and his Band of Brothers had an even better way.

Still flying the flag, they stayed cool and calm – and with those collecting buckets at the ready, they collected.

Photographic credits:
~  photos from the roadside:  Martin Riddle, Inga Sevastjanova
~  photos at the Finish:  Marian Dent
~  photos at the Welcome tent:  Alan Riddle

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