125th half marathon at the Great North Run in memory of twin brother

RYC Updated

Mike Whitling, a 63-year-old father from Leeds, is running his 125th half marathon on Sunday 11 September at the Great North Run in memory of his twin brother and running partner, Steve Whitling.

Steve passed away six months ago with Scleroderma, an uncommon condition he was diagnosed with a couple of years prior.

Steve and Mike loved running together and therefore, Mike is running his 125th half marathon in memory of his brother and to raise awareness for this rare disease.

Mike and Steve’s first half marathon together was the Great North Run in 1985 (pictured above) and Mike’s 100th was also the Great North Run so being able to run his 125th for his brother means a lot to him.

Speaking to Mike’s daughter, Bex Whitling about her father and uncle’s story, Bex tells us, “Newcastle is where they both went to university and my uncle was a massive Newcastle United fan so they have always adored the place.

“My dad says there’s no better feeling than running toward that finish line in the heart of the city where they both went to university. He absolutely loves it.

“Even when my uncle got quite poorly when he was diagnosed, he always went and supported my dad. He had began to lose quite a lot of weight and therefore needed to wrap up warm, but nevertheless he’d still stand by the route and cheer my Dad on from the sidelines and remain excited for every single run he was doing.”

“They always did stuff as a team which is why this one is going to be so hard. But, I know he’ll be there in spirit.”

Speaking about her uncle’s illness, Bex told us, “it got to the point where he couldn’t absorb the food he was eating so he lost a lot of weight and energy. But, he was one of those people who just refused to slow down.

“He was an extremely positive and determined person. For example, even when his health had deteriorated to the point where he was struggling to walk, he explained to his family that he had just booked some tickets to see the Foo Fighters. Everyone was in shock to find out he had chosen standing tickets for the concert, with his reasoning being the atmosphere is way better down there! This is the kind of compelling energy that he continued to radiate consistently all the way through.”

Mike has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money and awareness for the charity Scleroderma & Raynaud’s UK.

“We have actually seen changes since my uncle was first diagnosed. Doctors are now specializing in this, they’re working on new medication. Changes are being made from raising awareness.

“We want to raise money because it’s something he would’ve wanted. He’s the type of person that would be proud knowing that we are raising money to prevent someone else passing from this disease. I think this charity will genuinely change someone’s life at some point.”

The Great North Run will take place on Sunday 11 September 2022, returning to the original city to sea route with the finish line at South Shields. It’ll be a fantastic weekend of sport in Newcastle with the Great North 5k and the UKA 5KM Road Championships on the Friday 9 September and the Junior and Mini Great North Run on Saturday 10 September.

To support Mike’s GoFundMe page, visit here: https://gofund.me/4a0e2d33

To find out more about the event, visit here: greatrun.org/events/great-north-run/