In short: 1st 1/2 marathon & 1st GNR - bit or a mare though In full: My first GNR and 1/2 marathon, trained for over a year for it and found it much tougher than I thought. Great atmosphere and great organisation, but some points that I found: 1. I guessed that I walked 3-4 miles to get to the start line, parking South of South Shields and taking the tube (as recommended to me). Spending 30 mins on a packed train and then another hour or so literally packed like sardines waiting for the start wasn't ideal preparation for the race and I didn't get to do any stretching ! Not good. 2. Usual comment about walkers at the start - having just done the Great South Run, why didn't they have multiple wave starts for the GNR like they did in Portsmouth. Worked a treat there. 3. There were just too many people on the run. I reckoned afterwards that I must have worn myself out running around people and not running at my usual pace, or any consistent pace actually, despite a Garmin Forerunner to help me ! There was bairly an occasion when I was able to run unimpeded. 4. Water stations were great and plentiful - I don't think that the organisers could have accounted for the heat though, and I suffered badly over the last 4 miles despite drinking plenty and pouring water over my head every few hundred metres. 5. Re the heat, why does the race start so late - everyone is there ateast an hour in advance, I feel unnecessarily, and everyone except the elite runners were made to run through the hottest part of the day - a 9.30 start would make more sense ? 6. The last 2 miles, when so many were clearly in trouble, put a real downer on the event for me.
Lessons learnt: Don't do the GNR if you want a good time, or even a normal "training run" time. Use the buses to take you straight to the start without walking and don't get in the starting lanes until the race has already started - just climb over the fence near the start line somewhere. Drink lots and have a good time for the atmosphere, not to race.
Many sympathies to the families of those that lost their lives. Date of review: October 11, 2005