In short: Not Quite What I Expected In full: Wanted to run this one more than any other, as it's the greatest Half in the world. Had some fantastic support from the people of Newcastle, I've never seen such a friendly crowd. What let it down though, was the overnight accomodation, we were directed to the wrong building for the sleepover, a last minute change of venue meant we had no where to park, they kept the lights on all night for health and safety making it hard to sleep, and they closed the sports centre at 5pm on the day of the race, making it difficult to retrieve our belongings in time. The company that provided the sleepover were also supposed to provide us with transport to the city but we were unable to locate the bus that we'd paid for, and when I phoned them the next day they simply blamed us for not looking harder. A near riot at the baggage buses meant that the police had to be brought in to control the very angry crowd after their bags were taken off the buses and thrown into a big pile in a tent. The BBC only really cared about the elite runners, so don't tell your relatives to look out for you on the box, they'll be wasting their time. Hotel accomodation is usually booked up before the ballot. Recommend parking in South Shields, sleep in your car, take a bus to the start the next day and leave your baggage in the boot, one person I know did that, it worked out well. Not a race I will be running again, but thanks to the people of Newcastle for your support. Date of review: March 11, 2013
In short: Electric race! Do it at least once! In full: LOVE this race. Big crowds, celebs, the Red Arrows, televised live on the BBC, fantastic fun whether you're going for a PB or just wanting to do your first half. It's a big race, very big - about 45,000 runners, but it copes well (you start on the motorway), plenty of space, facilities (not too long to wait for the loos, no queue for bag drop). A long wait before you actually get over the line, though, but there's plenty of anticipation.
The route has some great parts, such as over the Tyne Bridge (early on - after a few miles) and through some of the nicer residential areas, but a lot is on motorways and dual carriage ways, and through industrial areas. Somewhat undulating, but nothing major.
Best bit is mile 10 onwards when the crowds really come out and depending on your time the Red Arrows are doing (another) display which you can see a long way off. The final mile is amazing, a nice downhill and then flat along the seafront in front of huge crowds.
Finish area is very well organised, with spacious areas for collecting drinks, goodie bags, tag removal etc before entering the Charity and Runner's village. Only drawback was some of the baggage buses were unable to get through to the finish due to the emergency services needing the road so some of the bags were late (I had a bit of a wait for mine).
If you are travelling and staying over, make the most of the Saturday to watch the City Games and enjoy the kid's race, expo and pasta party - the city is practically taken over by the Great North Run! If you get a hotel in the city centre, most hotels will lay on minibuses to the start, or get a taxi if you don't want to walk there about 2-3 miles. The walk from the finish to South Shields is easy and takes about 20 minutes, but beware the very long queues for the metro, and don't expect to be able to sit down on the rammed-full train back to the city centre!
I think everyone should do this once, and if you love crowds, try and go for it more than once, it's a lot of fun! Date of review: February 3, 2013
In short: FANTASTIC In full: My first experience of any kind of organised race and was I Overwhelmed what a great experience for both myself and family who came to watch Definately me doing more of these!!!!!!!!! Date of review: January 17, 2013
In short: The GNR is an institution of Mass Participating Brilliance In full: Been doing it every year for the last 9 years. Around 50k runners so it can bottle-neck in a couple of places but on the whole one of the most important races on Uk calender. Love it. Average runners watch the last 3 miles - they can suck the life out of your legs! Try and save a bit to get you thru Mile 11 Date of review: October 23, 2012
In short: Always Special In full: Still my favourite, and always will be. It was a bit cold and wet this year but this didn't dampen the atmosphere and the supporters were out with enough energy to fuel a power station. If you ever do one race in your life, do this one. Date of review: October 17, 2012
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