Great North Fun Revisited

Great North Fun Revisited

A day has gone by and the excitement has died down. My personal congratulations to everyone to attempted the GNR - and especially to those who got to the finish under their own steam. I seem to have created some excitement by blogging as I went along. In reality, it was a couple of posts at the start and finish, plus updates on my times at each 5km marker. As someone who taught web stuff it seemed pretty mundane, but it seemed to get lots of people excited ... and I'm really (REALLY) grateful for all the positive feedback you gave me. I didn't get time to read much of it on the event but as I sat in the car waiting (for almost 4 hours) to exit the car park, it brought home how supportive we in this forum are towards each other.

A few folk asked how on earth I managed to post to the forum while running. Well I just typed it into my phone as I jogged along, and the mobile network took care of the rest of it. I run without my spectacles so had to pull them out of ,my pocket to see what I was doing. The actual typing wasn't too difficult - just shows how slowly I was running I guess (:->)

Getting to the start could have been easier - or rather the organisers could have provided a lot more information about it. However, the actual transfer from the car park at the finish to the start was really efficient. Note for those thinking of doing it next year - it takes about an hour and a half from parking the car to getting to the assembly area. then a bit more to get to your assigned point. I left at 08:30 and only just got to my 'gate' before the 10:30 cut-off.

Missed the warm-up but kind of tried to do a little as I walked towards my gate while the assembled throng were doing their stuff. At the gate, the pen itself was full and a small crowd had to wait outside. When the time came to move forward, the stewards held the later group back to let the 'overflow' group in.

The main event started at 10:40, and the masses then worked their way to the start. I got there 11:06 but wasn't sure if this WAS the start - I had to ask a steward, then throw away my old fleece and get my camera ready. This didn't affect timing - the clock doesn't start for each runner until they go over the timing mat at the start line. It then stops when you go over the finish line ... and everyone has their own customised timing schedule.

The first part of the course ran downhill. Really busy, having to struggle to get past slower runners (yes, slower than me). By the first mile, I had passed people stopping for a pee, and one who was throwing up at the side of the road. Through a few underpasses with loads of Oi Oi Oi to bind us together and before I knew where I was, we were at the Tyne Bridge. So far so good. And so it continued. 5km in 25/26 minutes. Then it started to go uphill. Oh dear. The course profile showed a long uphill, then a long downhill, finishing with a 3 mile climb towards the coast road. But to me, it just wen t up and up and up. I said to one runner beside me that if this went on, we'd soon be up there with the Red Arrows. I just didn't see many downhill bits. 6 miles came and went, 10k about 53 mins and the next I knew it was 12.5km. I just don't know where those km went. Reviewed my situation. My furthest distance since the 5x50 was 15Km and I was looking good for that. Then it would be 16k, which was 10 miles. Surely if I got that far, I could walk the rest if necessary?

I hadn't taken on any water so far but picked up a PowerAde at the 10 mile mark. I remembered what Phil had said about using energy products. I had a couple of gel packs in my shorts but hadn't wanted to use them, but Powerade seemed OK. I took it in case I needed it, but didn't really want to drink in case it made me need to go ...

Uphill, Uphill, Uphill. The incentive to keep going was that, at the end of the hill was a steep downhill to the coast. then it would be the last mile along the sea front to the finish. Now, there was tremendous support from spectators the whole way from start to finish. Some were handing out their own unofficial supplies of water, and others were passing out sweets. Some charities were also handing stuff out. I didn't really want to take anything because you never know what it might be ... stupid, I know. but better safe than puking! But then, there it was. A first aid tent, with a first aid person wearing a proper tabard. And she was holding out her hand with yellow stuff. Yumm! Lemony glucose sweets! So I grabbed a whole handful.

EXCEPT - it wasn't solid sweets. It was icky sticky Vaseline. UUURGH! I stopped for a moment to wipe my hands on the grass, then started going again, taking my hanky from my shorts to clean the rest. Ah well - it was a nice thought!

Hit the top of the hill. Down the other side. My family would be somewhere and I looked for them as the other runners swept past me. No sign of Mrs Malcy, so swept left onto the coast road. Kept looking and I guess losing some time, but still no sign. Turned out they were at the 200 metre mark, among the big crowd so I never did see them nor did they see me!

Over the finish line. Blast - I had taken video clips as I went along but forgot to take one at the finish. What a plonker! The official time was just under 2 hours 2 mins. My Garmin watch said I had done an extra 400 metres or so (weaving through the field I guess - I had to do a lot of that) and put my time to the half marathon distance as 1 hour 59 mins, 57 seconds. So I can say I did a half marathon in under 2 hours. But history will show that I didn't.

So there you are - I did the Great North back in 1983. The time then was about 2 hours 44 mins. So even with the minimum of long distance training, I managed to beat that time.

The only thing I didn't manage was to raise much cash for my charity - Diabetes UK. I didn't want to do this on the forum, but if you do feel a compulsion to put your hand in your pocket, you can go to Or text 70070 - enter the message as MALC55 followed by the amount you want to donate - e.g. MALC55 £2

You can see my stats from the Garmin watch at

I've put some photos on my Dropbox account at I've also put my video clips together and will upload the finished item once the software has finished processing it - that'll be Tuesday morning.

I see a lot of people thinking about doing the 2014 event. If you have any questions or need any advice (for what it's worth), just let me know.

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26 Replies

  • You sure had us on the edge of our seats yesterday, Malcy. Thanks for the great entertainment. Congratulations on the great time, too.

  • Well done again Malcy! Great post, and if I ever do a HM I'll know to watch out for the Vaseline and not eat it! That made me laugh (sorry - bet it was quite unpleasant!). Just sponsored you too.

  • Thanks so much Sarah. Started out with great intentions of raising loads of cash but it somehow never quite happened. I'll make up for it next year.

  • Great fun reading this. I feel like I was there. Which is great as I did not have to suffer the pain of the running, nor the horrendous wait to exit the car park! Well done Malcy.

  • Congratulations and very well done! You're a legend Malcy:-) The vaseline episode made me laugh - I'll watch that if I ever get to a HM (10k max so far). Enjoy basking in the glory - a great achievement.

  • Congratulations again! Your 10km time split is faster than any 10km I've ever run, very impressive!

  • Brilliantly well done. So sorry I missed the 'real-time' commentary (I had to work) now I can imagine it as if I was there. You must be very chuffed. Thanks for all the feedback. Congratulations, Linda X

  • Great going malcy and the description of the day is brill! Was watching on tv and saw all the discarded clothes and that last steep downhill was evil on the quads I'm sure! You did fantastic and hope you managed to get to eat your pizza ;)


    ps please do join us on the c25kers Facebook group page; loads have joined in the past 24 hrs with over 80 members now! We are all waiting for you!!! :)

  • i had a quick look at facebook - but there were quite a few sites. i couldn't see one that looked like 'us' - and some of the posts looked quite old. Can you point me in the right direction. thanks

  • for the Facebook group suzy

  • This was wonderful to read - terrifying, but wonderful! I'm hoping to do the GNR next year, and it's good to know in advance about the uphill-ness of it, even though on the course profile it only looks like there are one or two actual hills (which I'd been thinking I might walk...). But if it 'feels' uphill then I'll need to factor that into my training, which is hugely helpful! Congratulations for completing it (and in such good time!) and I hope to draw on your wisdom and experience as the 2014 race draws near ;) ! (such as - don't eat the yellow sweets!)

  • Truely magnificent - well done:-)

  • Great post Malcy, well done on a fabulous time and thanks for sharing your experience. My mate challenged me to do the GNR when I did my first 10K but I knew I was nowhere near that level (and still not, to be honest!) so it's great to read about it from someone who actually ran it! :-)

  • Malcy your a star, what fun it was to watch out for your updates on Sunday, it was better than the Grand National, brilliant, what a man. Hope those muscles are loosening off for you today. Well done you :)

  • All fine now Oldgirl. Just a bit of a wrench getting down to doing real work. I took yesterday off by going out to do some "essential errands" in Dundee. But even this morning it took me until lunchtime to get started. All part of the fun (:->)

  • Great description Malcy. I too was surprised at how hilly it was. I did it as a power walk some 8 years ago and I didn't remember that and I'm not v good at interpreting contour maps. Like you I was paranoid about what I ate/drank en route as everything I read said have nothing your system isn't used to and I have a friend who suffered terrible stomach cramps caused by just a few jelly babies!

    Someone suggested to me it may be like childbirth - a good deal of apprehension beforehand, very painful at the time but you soon forget the pain and think maybe you'll do it again! I think that sums it up pretty well don't you?! :o)

    PS Despite your modesty I'm still mighty impressed that you cod blog as you go and still finish in under 2 hours (or even 2 minutes over)! Well done!

  • What a team we made! I don't think time matters all that much (oh - all right, I would have loved to have been two minutes under than two over ...). It's just so good to be able to do it after thirty years of sitting at a desk getting more and more overweight! I saw some of the walkers coming in just ahead of the sweeper vehicles. My wife couldn't understand when I said that it didn't matter ... it really was the taking part and getting to the finish that was important. And yes, I really agree about not taking anything - I finished the run with both my 'power gel' sachets still sealed up in my pocket.

    Roll on next year (:->)

  • Well done Malcy; great achievement.

  • Just brilliant. And the yellow sweets bit - priceless!

  • I am in awe and admiration! Nice one Malcy :-)

  • A great job for an equally great cause, happy to donate x

  • Thanks Clawmum - very much appreciated.

  • I feel dead proud of you!

  • Thanks. I just felt dead (:->)

  • I should also have thanked you in the wider sense TJ. As I said in the "C25K awards" where Aftab nominated you ... You truly were my inspiration when I went through "the journey". I don't really know why, but I just seemed to understand exactly what (I thought) you were saying in your posts, as you kept encouraging us all.

    I really shouldn't be running half marathons, or even 5Ks. That was an entirely different person. I was heading for a terrible physical state. This running hasn't just changed my life for the better - I really believe it has been a life saver by adding a whole bundle of years to my life expectancy.

    I'm not sure I would have achieved what I have without your guidance in the early days. As I commented, rather mushily (if you get my meaning) you held up the light at the end of the tunnel, showing me the way through and guiding me to the end. For that I'll never be able to thank you enough.

  • Malcy, I am touched by what you've just said.Ever since taking up running I have been on the C25K site, in the old days it was for my own inspiration and since then I've enjoyed reading others journeys and helping them to believe that it's all possible. People have come and gone from the site (which has gone through two huge changes) but it's always brilliant to keep in touch. You've achieved so much. We all have in our own way. Thank you for your lovely thoughtful words, and for being such an inspiration to us all x

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