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: A well organised, really enjoyable event. In full: Had heard much hype about this race in advance. Thankfully, the race lived up to its billing and if anything exceeded expectations. Fantastic venue and facilities, on the whole good marshalling, medical aid was on the ball. Special thanks for plentiful supplies of water throughout course, much appreciated on a warm day. Good course from runners perspective, mostly flat, and good for spectators at start and finish. Fine race forum on RW website both pre & post event that provided all the encouragement you could need. Hope to be back again! Date of review: October 31, 2005
In short: "Wasn't it fun, the day we spent, splashing about in the water?" In full: Awful weather...flooded route to contend with...more like a cross country than a road race...sounds like a disastrous day?...far from it!!
Yes, the heavens opened and yes, there was lots of splashing about to be done, but this just seemed to enhance the event if anything! What's all that about triumphing in adversity, well that's what the organisers did here! Splendidly organised and very well marshalled race, despite difficult conditions. Everyone is to be congratulated, from the boy scouts on the water stations to the 400+ competitors who braved the weather and enjoyed a good race. And a lovely towel as a memento of the day! This is one I'd definitely do again. Thanks Southport Waterloo A.C. and Natterjack. Date of review: October 27, 2005
In short: What a fantastic evening for a really pleasant run. In full: Thoroughly enjoyed myself. This one really is flat - it must be for me to have run a PB! Did this one with my training bud, who was running his first ever race of any distance. He too really enjoyed himself and was in buoyant mood afterwards, insisting he wants to do another! You couldn't really wish for a better recommendation for any other potential debutants, could you? Date of review: May 17, 2005
In short: A well organised and enjoyable run through some lovely Shropshire countryside In full: Initially, what looked to be a rough afternoon in terms of weather actually turned out to be quite pleasant. About half an hour before start time, the heavens opened and it looked as if all we could look forward to was a dull and rainy afternoon. Aided by a gusty wind however, the clouds moved on quite quickly and with the exception of a couple of brief showers, the race field was blessed with blue skies and sunshine. Being a relative beginner to running, I began at the back of the field, which co-incidentally, is where I spent most of the race! The run itself however was enjoyable, clearly visible mile markers and information signs for both runners and motorists and plenty of assistance from a small army of marshalls. Perhaps with my being a newcomer to the sport, I still have to adapt to some of the terminology as I think I might have classed this as an undulating course rather than flat, (but perhaps I still have a lot to learn!) I finished just outside of my target time for the day but still left feeling pleased that I had participated in a very well run event and met some nice, friendly folk in the process! Date of review: May 10, 2005