Great North Run 2010 – our review of the big day

Who were the stars of the show? Well, everyone who ran for us. Especially those who took part under difficulties. You are all stars whether you hit the headlines or not.

Some caught the public eye – and the eye of the TV cameras. Foremost were Rachel Cropper and her team. Rachel has MND. For the final mile she left her wheelchair and walked the rest of the way, helped by her team members.

They were clearly out to make the most the day:

And did you know that our runners produced a new world record-holder?

Steve Critten and Andrew Dixon are firefighters from Humberside. They set out to break the existing world record for running a half-marathon in full firefighting gear. Steve broke the record with his time of 2 hrs 28 mins 7 secs and so is now the world record-holder (subject to confirmation). Andrew was close behind with his time of 2 hrs 35 mins 57 secs.

Most of our runners were not aiming at world or any other record but just to do their best. For some it must have been a painful endurance test, to judge from the number of knee and calf bandages we saw. For example:

Andy Woolis (above left) writes, “I loved the whole day even if I did go over on a water bottle at the 3 mile drink station and limped the last 10 mile, lol. Yes I’m deffo coming back next year, already registered my interest..……….. and I’m deffo running for MND again. My brother-in-law died just over a year ago now from this terrible disease and yes, I was in pain but I’ll get over it and run another day, whereas others with MND won’t, so a little pain is well worth it in my eyes.”

It can’t have been easy for the Thompson brothers, Craig and Andrew either, with their self-inflicted torture:

The weather produced mixed benefits. For the faster runners there were good conditions conducive to fast times. More of our runners than ever before clocked in with times under 2 hours – 43 of them.

There was a exact dead-heat for our first place: Lucy Brain and Paul Nutter both finished with a time of 1 hour 27 mins 26 secs. Then in quick succession came Phillip Bell at 1 hr 28 mins and Tom Bounford at 1 hr 29 mins.

Lucy was the 15th woman to finish in the entire race and Paul was 67th in his age-group.

It was different for our runners going at more modest speeds. The weather deteriorated and many were caught in a torrential downpour.

Another very fit set of runners were the footballers. A star footballer from trophy-winning Whitley Bay FC, Mark Taylor, was diagnosed with MND early this year and since then has been actively fund-raising for the fight against the disease. He has so far raised around £17,000. A number of his friends were running give further support, among them footballers Mark Sheeran and Lee Picton.

It was a family occasion. There were several teams of siblings – including the Boyer sisters, Platten brothers, Bounford brothers, Baker brothers, sister/brother combo Rachael Thorburn/Sam Wyatt and Rachel Bowie with her brother and 2 sisters.

and cousins too such as Helen Birrell & Juliet Rhodes.

There were husband and wife teams such as Judith & Dougie Scarfe, Joe & Marion Haskin and Wendy & Steve Beamond.

There were parent-&-offspring pairs such as Sharon Pomfrett and her daughter Vicki Hewett:

while others brought the non-running family along for support:

Many runners carried a dedication – a photo or name of the individual they were running for.

But the deadly seriousness of the MND cause doesn’t stop us enjoying life where we can, even during a 13-mile run in dodgy weather. For all the aches and pains and the rain and the worries waiting back home, an incredible number of runners were still able to raise a smile, a greeting, a thumbs-up or a cheeky grin on the way.

And then there was Kirsten McKay – being chased by a big bear but still of good cheer…………

………not to mention Sarah Pearson……..

Rachael Thorburn, a wheelchair user, was one of those caught in the rainstorm,

but it didn’t dampen her enthusiasm. Her brother Sam writes, “Although the weather was rubbish at the end of the race, the start and middle were actually quite pleasant so for most of the run both Rachael and I both enjoyed it so much so that Rachael is trying to persuade me to enter again next year.”

Fancy dress made a good contrast with the standard running gear. Jasmin Boyes and Sam McVey were conspicuous in their camouflage. David McCauley carried his customary cuddly passenger and Simon Sheard was a Thunderbird.

Rachel Cropper’s team and the footballers were not the only bigger groups in evidence. Team Jean had 8 members:

(No, the small one in pink was not running.)

But biggest by far of all our groups was the Glew Crew, with 22 runners, all taking part as a tribute to Peter Glew who has been diagnosed with MND. Here are five of them:

But, for all the party atmosphere on the day, we must remember that, for just about everyone named in our Review or pictured in our galleries, there is tragedy that has prompted the desire to join the fight against MND. For some the passage of time has eased the hurt. But for many the anguish and distress is still here and now.

For example, this family group of Joanne, Linda, Vivienne, Tina and Mark, were running only 6 weeks after Linda’s husband, Les, had died of MND. Both Linda and her sister Tina started the Run with injuries. Tina had to walk the entire course and, with great courage and determination, completed it in 4 hours 5 minutes. Between them the group have raised well over £7,000.

And so another Great North Run day comes to an end. For people with MND it has been the best Run yet, with more runners in the cause than ever before. A cause for hope.

That could be a new MND Association slogan – A CAUSE FOR HOPE.

Review by AR

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