RW Race Report - Bupa Great North Run 2011

38 seconds in...

Where Newcastle-upon-Tyne
When September 18, 2011
First Man Martin Mathathi 58:56
First Woman Lucy Kabuu 1:07:06
Last Finisher 4:26:18
No. of Finishers 37482

It was a chilly start to the 31st Bupa Great North run and with a forecast for a light drizzle later on, the conditions looked perfect for quick times out on the course.

After a swoop over the start line from the grieving Red Arrows, Mo Farah fired the starting pistol and began an epic 40-minute high-fiving session with the runners. Thanks in part to RW's recent interview, many runners were aware of Mo's Arsenal obsession and the local Toon fans ribbed him after their defeat at Blackburn the day before.

The road splits in two early on and starts the first of the course's many undulations, before rejoining for the crossing of the Tyne Bridge. Throughout the 13.1 miles, there are a number of very gradual but lengthy ascents and descents; the largest starts just past 5K and climbs for about 2 miles.

The high volume of runners causes a degree of congestion during the race, and because celebs and VIPs start first, quicker runners will struggle to worm their way through. This is alleviated by the width of the road (the route is largely along a dual carriageway). Unfortunately, this means that the only real points of interest along the course are crossing the Tyne Bridge before mile 2 and starting the long finish straight along the coast at mile 12.

But the support from the locals completely makes up for the distinct lack of scenery. Lucky runners can expect to be offered orange slices, jelly babies, booze, ice pops and even a quick shower from onlookers brandishing hosepipes. There were cheering sections on the remotest sections of the A184 and even the cheeky kids squirting people with water bottles or deliberately missing high-fives were appreciated. The rain falling during my last mile couldn't dissipate the Geordies, while a chap being helped over the last 100 metres by two other runners sent the crowd into an utter frenzy of support and adulation.

It's a very busy race, but organized incredibly well and lined with drinks stations (water and sports drink), live music (at almost every mile) and even a Bupa Boost Zone providing sports massages, Vaseline and jelly beans. And the Red Arrows display is a fitting reward for your hard work after the race. All in all, it's a very emotionally-charged, monster of an event.

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