MORE than 50,000 runners recently took part in what is arguably the world’s greatest half-marathon – the Great North Run, writes David Jones.
Starting in Newcastle, the 13.1-mile course is lined with supporters all the way from the iconic Tyne Bridge, right out towards the coast in South Shields.
This year, five Stratford Athletic Club members took part plus one mighty junior athlete.
On the Saturday, before the big race on Sunday, the curtain-raiser is both a junior and mini race and this year the club was once again represented by young Alex Adams.
Last year Alex won the 1.5km race for three to eight-year-olds and this year he made the giant leap into the nine to 16-year-old age category, running 4km, which was a huge step up in both age and distance.
Despite this and running in torrential rain, Alex started towards the back of the field, picking his way through other runners, to finish in the top one per cent as he came sixth out of a field of 646 and completed his run in 16.04 – a truly remarkable performance.
Son Alex was a hard act to follow but mum Emily put in a tremendous performance as she completed the run in 1:57.19, despite hardly having run since March.
Emily mentioned the fantastic atmosphere, particularly at mile 12, where mum Cindy and sons Alex and Ollie were there blowing their horns and cheering her on.
Two of Stratford’s half-marathon specialists James Coy and Richard Hartwell were both competing in their first Great North Run.
James (1:37.12) felt the race went well but he found having to weave in and out of the large number of runners difficult to cope with. However, he found both the support and finishing by the coast fantastic.
Richard (2:12.48) said that, while it was not his best race, it most certainly was not his worst. He also commented on the fantastic atmosphere.
One of Stratford’s newest members suffered the cruelest of blows. Rozalia Johnstone was aiming for a sub-two-hour time and finished the race in two hours and one second!
Rozalia felt she would have gone sub-two hours, if not for the number of runners who slowed down in the final 500m. Nevertheless, she thought it was a brilliant event with an amazing atmosphere that she will definitely do again.
James Lawson (2:10.15) was another Stratford runner coming back from a long period of injury and, as such, he can be mightily pleased with his time.
The men’s race was won by a certain Mo Farah (59:22). Kenya’s Mary Keitany (67:32) triumphed in the ladies’ race.