Great North Run 2017 – Our Review of the Big Day

It was, as always, a great occasion. Around 300 runners dedicated to raising funds for the fight against MND – sometimes it seemed like they were all trying to get into the MNDA Welcome Tent all at the same time.

It all starts quietly. Then our first few finishers trickle in. Then the main body arrive and it can become quite a scrum.

First arrivals

Iain Gillett clocked the amazing time of 1 hr 22 mins and Frances Roberts followed soon after with 1 hr 30.

Iain Gillett          Frances Roberts

Then came Iain Armstrong (1 hr 36), Louise Bell of the Scott Bell Fund (1 hr 40) and Calum Dundas (also 1 hr 40:

Iain Armstrong          Louise Bell         Calum Dundas

They were followed Matthew Platten and Paul Branley (both 1 hr 41) and Eliott Sykes and Adam Blakelock (both 1 hr 42).

Two of our runners in the GNR’s 65-69 age-group produced noteworthy performances. Alan Webb returned a time of 1 hr 56 and was 45th in his overall GNR age-group. George Jennings was only slightly slower at 2 hrs 3 mins and was 78th in the age-group.

Alan Webb          George Jennings

Our runners

Our runners come in all varieties, shapes and sizes, ages and levels of fitness.

For some, such as those pictured above,the main question on their mind was probably, “Can I beat my personal best?”

For some others the question on their mind was more like, “Can I get there?” These runners deserve our very special thanks and admiration. Running half-marathons is not part of their normal way of life. For them, taking part in the GNR is an adventure into the perilous unknown, defying muscles that are screaming for respite.

In contrast. some were able to take a relaxed view of the day and treat it as a pleasant, sociable and stress-free way to pass the time.  In this category we noticed Kelly-Louise Graveson, Claire Lawson and Alexandra Henshall & Claire Brunskill:

Kelly-Louise-Graveson         Claire Lawson          Alexandra Henshall & Claire Brunskill

There was a wide range of ages. Teenager Alex Woolley may well have been our youngest runner while one of our two Mike Woods was towards the other end of the scale:

Alex Wooley         Mike Wood

Some runners have appeared for several years now and are familiar faces. Christine Baker and Michael Curtis first ran for MNDA in 2006, making this their 12th Run for us:

Christine Baker & Michael Curtis

Other familiar faces include Paula Maguire, Ed Carroll and his sisters Rachel Bowie & Joanna Brown, and Craig Thompson,

Paula Maguire   Rachel Bowie, Ed Carroll & Joanna Brown  Craig Thompson

and Douglas & Judith Scarfe and David McCauley & Rosalie McSwiggan to mention just a few:

Douglas & Judith Scarfe        David McCauley & Rosalie McSwiggan

Celebrating achievement

Runners were happy to show off their Run medals.  For example there was Angela Richardson, Joe Smith and Hayley Scott ….

Angela Richardson Joe SmithHayley Scott
and Philip Mikolajewski, Heather Attlesey and Jak Newby ….

Philip MikolajewskiHeather Attlesey Jak Newby

…. and Rachael Lamb, Pete & Natalie Greenwood and Paul Maylunn:

Rachael LambPete & Natalie GreenwoodPaul Maylunn

The sense of achievement could be seen in the Finish area too from Mark Stott, Owen Griffiths & Holly Daniels and Sarah & Tom Mellodew:

Mark StottOwen Griffiths & Holly Daniels Sarah & Tom Mellodew

On the road

In the GNR you never know who (or what) you are going to be running next to, but Peter Greaves, Kieron Hubbuck and Natalie Cummings took strange company in their stride:

Peter Greaves Kieron Hubbuck Natalie Cummimgs

You can stock up on your calories on the way, as Ben Clayton did:

Benjamin Clayton

You might have to wait a bit for your running companion to catch up with you, as Brendan Greenan did:

Brendan Greenan

or you might get photo-bombed like Paige West:

Paige West

and you might spot one of our paparazzi, as did Annmarie Warner, Catherine Nixson, Clare Tector …..

Annmarie Warner Catherine Nixson Clare Tector

….. and Jude Sewell, Pam Nandhra and Frances Brady :

Jude SewellPam NandhraFrances Brady

….. and Paula Solomon and Stefanie Herod:

Paula Solomon     Stefanie Herod


The GNR is a social event almost as much as an athletic one and so many runners have company.  Spouses, family, friends, clubmates, etc were there in force – mostly in pairs but some in 3s or 4s.

There was Ben Margetts with Phil Saville and Ravi Pankhania, running (along with Sarah Hodges and Peter Greaves) on account of David Greaves who was the inspiration of last year’s “2 Fingers to MND” campaign.  There was Denise Fishwick and Debra Denney.

Ben Margetts, Phil Saville & Ravi Pankhania     Denise Fishwick & Debra Denney

Among many others there was Kate Bearman with Rebecca Senior and trio Elizabeth Cooper, Melanie Carr & Claire Mallows:

Kate Bearman & Rebecca Seniorx    Elizabeth Cooper, Melanie Carr & Claire Mallows

and there was Team Ward comprising Terry Widger, Craig, Mick & Marty Booth (and David McAllister, not in photo)

Terry Widger, Craig, Mick & Marty Booth

It runs in the family

Sarah Hylton is the granddaughter of Ken Hylton, who was a mainstay and inspiration of the Tyne & Wear MNDA Branch for many years. Now in his nineties he was present to congratulate her on her time of 2 hrs 9 mins.

The Orton family were here again – George and son Roland – while Paul Branley’s daughter Sarah now runs as well. She clocked 2 hrs 8 mins.

Keith Hardy‘s family were not actually running but they were on hand to give him support on the way and to greet him on successful completion.

Sarah Hylton       Orton family

Sarah Branley        Keith Hardy & family

Grabbing attention

Bright and eccentric attire is a great way to grab attention along the road.  And they don’t come much eye-grabbing than the superb outfits of Lisa Mann or Mathew Robson & Dan Hayes:

Lisa Mann Mathew Robson & Dan Hayes

or Colin Johnstone, Alex Wilson or John Quinn

Colin Johnstone   Alex WilsonJohn & Zhanara Quinn

A round of applause to them for brightening the day!


But behind all the festivity and light-heartedness, there remains an unhappy truth. Speak to any of our runners and ask what prompted them to run for MNDA. You will hear distressing accounts of close relatives, lovers, friends, work colleagues, clubmates, etc being struck down by MND.

Sarah HodgesStephen O'Neill

Greg Farrimond  Kim Ellis

Time and again you will hear the intense desire to ensure that future generations are spared from this disease.

You will  hear both determination and optimism that one day the answer will be found.

Meantime we carry on the fight in good heart and confident spirit.  This image of Philip Pearcy expresses the mood perfectly:

Philip Pearcy

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

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