In short: Quite an enjoyable day - until the baggage buses at the end!! In full: Like many others, this was my first ever GNR... it was also one of my long held ambitions to take part in an oft TV spectated event!
To a large extent, I would have to say that the day did live up to expectations - certainly the early part of the day!
From the point of view of accomodation, hotels etc really cash in on the weekend and hike their prices up so much that you have no choice but to pay the hugely inflated prices being asked. We got "lucky" and managed to get accomodation in Newcastle city centre (I'll not name names but the well known chain of "lodge" which you "travel" to) where we stayed charged £100 more for the Sat night than they did for the Sun night, but I'm sure that they are not alone in respect of this.
Given that this day had been a long held ambition, I wanted to savour it and enjoy it as much as possible so I had my happy head on when I set off that morning and for much of the day, I had no reason to change my mood!
We followed the crowds to the start. located my baggage bus without too much trouble and were in our pen, stood ready and waiting with a good half hour to spare...fortunately the rain held off until we were about to go or it might have been a different story!
The early part of the race was absolutely fantastic! There was a great buzz at the start and we were kept suitably entertained in the lead up to the "off". Highlights for me must have been a fly past from the Red Arrows, quickly followed by a "high 5" from Mo Farrah, then running over the Tyne Bridge - races don't get much better than that in the first mile or so, do they?
By comparison, the next 11 miles were nowhere near as exciting, but how could they be? But the many and varied bands along the route...and the spectators...and the enthusiastic charity buses...and the well organised feed stations and first aid facilities did much to detract from the fairly mundane route which unfolded for the most part.
At the halfway point, I saw the electronic sign saying "enjoy the 2nd half" and I thought to myself "I'll try and do that!" However, being a newbie to the event and not knowing the course, I hadn't realised about the sequence of inclines during the latter stages and along with many others, I suffered for about 3 miles.
Being one of the many thousands of charity runners who was taking part in the race, it gives an indication as to my speed when I say I was at the 10 mile point when the Red Arrows were doing their display. Given that I was running for the British Heart Foundation in memory of my son, it was a particularly touching moment when two of the Red Arrows left the heart shaped vapour trail in the sky, at which I blew a kiss to the heavens for my son!
I have to confess to having found miles 9-12 quite hard but the spectators did their best to keep us going! Then came the point that I recognised from TV - the short but steep downhill stretch to the seafront - and I came alive again after a malaise of plodding for so long! The sight of the sea and the support of the crowds along the last mile did much to renew my vigour and I enjoyed the run along the seafront to the finish!
It was only after I'd finished that the problems began. Because I had finished some way down the field, the goody bag people had already run out of my preferred size of T shirt. Like countless others, I couldn't get a mobile signal and could only locate my family from text messaging. We visited the charity village and I received some much needed sustenance from our charity tent.
Then the day turned really sour - we set off to the baggage buses before heading into South Shields to travel back to Newcastle - only to find the most monumental cock up had taken place and all of the bags had been taken off the baggage buses and placed into one tent - from which quite literally hundreds of competitors were trying to reclaim their property and there was absolutely no system or anywhere enough people in place to make this happen! There were an awful lot of very angry people at the impromptu baggage reclaim - who were very tired and getting cold and being rained upon - and who were in an entirely and unnecessary shambolic situation - all as a result of the decision of an unnamed party - to remove the bags from buses (which were going nowhere) and put them into a situation of disorder - from which chaos reigned!! Some 45 minutes later, I managed to collect my bag - it could have been much, much longer had it been one of the last to have been announced!
ORGANISERS PLEASE TAKE NOTE - NEVER EVER ALLOW SUCH A SITUATION TO ARISE AGAIN!!
It was sufficient to send me away with a black cloud over my head, having soured what had been a decent day until that point!!
Having been reunited in South Shields with my family, it was then a case of colossal queues for the metro and we got back to our digs at around 7pm!
Whilst I enjoyed the pre-event activities and the race itself...and I'm very pleased to have fulfilled an ambition...I'm not so sure that such a mass participation event as this is really my cup of tea! I would not be so dogmatic as to say never say never again...but it might not necessarily be next year!! Date of review: October 7, 2012
In short: Did not live up to expectations In full: Having watched on TV for years I was expecting something amazing at my first GNR. In all honesty it felt a little flat. I agree with comments about those who clearly think they are an elete runner and are walking within 1K causing chaos Date of review: October 6, 2012
In short: Not quite as good as last year. In full: Perhaps it's because I was looking back at 2011 (my first 1/2 Marathon) with Ross-tinted specs but for some reason this years didn't quite match up to what I was expecting.
Although I had an Orange number, I elected to start back in the first White Zone with my running partner (same pen as last year). Once again, people clearly lie about their times on their application forms as a common sight within the first mile is people walking, making a mockery of the whole system. I found myself getting very frustrated with people stopping dead in front of me from mile 2 onwards.
That said the atmosphere is good, seemed less so than last year even on the last mile but I suppose that was because of the rain. Can't be helped. The novelty of the Red arrows absolutely makes this event and its brilliant that the go over at the start so everybody has a chance to see the, at least once. Luckily I finish ft enough to see the display later on too!
The medal is of good quality but I notice that it was the same template design as the Great Manchester Run from earlier in the year. At well over £40 per race I would expect a unique design, ESPECIALLY for the GNR, arguably their flagship event.
I sound like I'm moaning a lot when in reality I thoroughly enjoy my weekend in the North East and as a stand alone event (not race) the experience can't be beaten. I have two races left on my membership and can't wait to get up there next year, I'll just make sure that my entry form has a time that might make Gebrselassie sweat. Date of review: October 5, 2012
In short: First time - fantastic, I'm still smiling! In full: This has been my aim for this year - I've never done anything like this before and never even done a 1k race! The atmos was unbelievable, fantastic support from locals all along the route. Scenery wasn't the best, but the last mile more than made up for it. Go out for dinner etc after the race and emerge to miraculously clear roads! We combined it witha holiday in Alnwick which was a really good idea. Can't wait for next year. Didn't even mind the wait at the start as the buzz is fantastic waiting to go. Loo line was a bit long though...! Date of review: October 5, 2012
In short: Do it, but just once In full: My first GNR. Dont know if it was just hyped up too much but I thought the scenery was awful most of the way - boring dual carriageways; crowd was OK but I have been to better (Bath Half springs to mind); long waits at the begining (expected with the number of people taking part); roads very crowded in places. BUPA organisiation excellent however. I would recommend the official Nirvana shuttle coach to/from Hotel - worked like clockwork and got us in (OK VERY early but better that than late) and out quickly at the end. Red Arrows were fantastic but overall I think there are other races I would rather try than doing GNR again. Like I said above - one to do but maybe just the once. Date of review: October 1, 2012
In short: 2nd year and a HUGE PB In full: Having run last year I was aware of the everlasting long uphill inclines. Last year I think I showed these too much respect but this year I really attacked them & stunned myself by getting a PB by over 2 1/2 minutes. The crowd support was totally amazing, despite the wet weather &, although it's a very busy course, it is possible to weave around people to overtake. It's also quite a surreal experience to see a dual carriage way chockablock with runner. The finishing strait is amazing & The Leas are really beautiful. Crowds were at least 3 deep along this stretch & really cheer the runners on. The Tyne Bridge & Red Arrows make this an iconic race to run. PLus it's not every day you get to run with 44,000 other runners! Date of review: September 27, 2012
In short: First time for me and enjoyed the race immensely In full: These are my views based on my experiences. The race itself: Ques for the loos were astronomical, luckily being a bloke and not a shy one I used natures toilet (a bush) there needs to be more and is a common gripe amongst runners. Didn't need luggage buses left my stuff with my family at finish and travelled light on metro to start so can not comment on that aspect. Got to my pen in plenty of time and good atmosphere the red arrows were amazing. Main gripe about start and again a common one. I was in orange b and going for sub 1:30 I spent the first three miles zig zagging and weaving between walkers and slow runners. How or why are these guys in this pen? Please be realistic and go in an appropriate pen. As for scenery a few people have moaned about it being dull but to be fair there's that many runners amongst you it's kind of hard to see anything around you so the scenery could be amazing and all you will see is the back of a mans head. However the bands were great the cheering stations were excellent the crowds and locals were amazing especially in the rain. The drinks and powerade stations were excellent but so much wastage, defo agree with previous comment, provide smaller bottles to reduce wastage. Route was tough not steep inclines but continuous gradual inclines that seemed to go on for miles. With no let up or respite. Finish line was great along the sea front. Medal t shirt and goody bag was the best I've had from a race. Overall a great experience. Other points to consider. Accommodation almost impossible to find, defo recommend paying extra or travelling further on the day rather than go for cheapest or nearest option (like I did) as I had a rubbish nights sleep. If travelling from the north to south shield in morning main route in is choca use the back roads, they were empty. Metro buy your band weeks before on line no queing. Metro will get rammed so be prepared to be sardined. Follow the crowd from the station don't worry about finding the start. Cell phone at finish is poor make arrangements to meet up at a specific point because you will be lucky if you get through. Either leave immediately or stay as late as possible otherwise you will be stuck in traffic for ages, also take back roads out of south shield as they will be empty. Hope these tips hep. Overall a must do race even if it's just the once. Date of review: September 27, 2012
In short: Too crowded! Not for PB! In full: Did this the second time. Not very pleased with this year's race. First of all, engineering works for the public transportation weren't coordinated with the a big event like this - waited for 35mins for a train from Sunderland to Newcastle due to limited services from engineering works. **And by the way, why can't they provide free ride on the Metro on the day of competition to all runners? That way, participants have one less queue to get through! They do that with the tubes in London during the London Marathon.
When we arrived at Newcastle, the luggage buses have left and the late luggage vans were located at the furthest point from the start line. More than a mile to walk!
Upon completing the run at South Shields, all mobile networks were down. Can't contact running members who need to convene and catch a train back to London.
Overall an unpleasant experience. Notice I didn't mention the wet weather but it's not their fault anyway. Date of review: September 26, 2012
In short: Proud to have ticked it off my list.. In full: Great race as has been said many times. I agree with previous comments about not enough loos and the 'dull as dishwater' route between miles 3 and 11.
Atmosphere and support was excellent but having done the BUPA Birmingham Half last year I have to say that Brum was better!
The rain was nice - it kept the runners cool and it wasn't as windy as was expected so weather was near perfect.
I'd like to come back again - but I won't rush to sign up for next year. It's an expensive weekend if you're not local. Date of review: September 25, 2012