Blind Dave Heeley was on the road again for his 12th event in the year-long challenge of taking on every Great Run in the series - this time he was on Tyneside for the Simplyhealth Great North 10K
The M6 motorway beckoned yet again, this time it was destination Gateshead and the Simplyhealth Great North 10k, run number 12 so far. The Saturday was another hot and humid day, but regardless the Team Blind Dave bus was on the road. Tony picked me up then we headed towards Wigan to collect Garry, and four hours later we arrived in Gateshead.
We had a little tour around, passing the Gateshead Stadium, looking to find some parking for the following morning, but our destination was South Shields, where friends Jim and Laraine had very kindly allowed us to park at their home for the night. What a welcome when we arrived, Laraine had had prepared us Spaghetti Bolognaise, Jim sorted us a couple of beers and our other friends Jen and Terry came along, as per usual great company.
After a great Northern welcome, our sleeping bags called us and by 10pm I’m guessing Z’s were coming from our mobile home.
Sunday morning, up, breakfast, kit on then rather than try parking the van at the stadium, Jim very kindly dropped us at the Metro station. Thirty minutes later, we were off and heading for the start. The crowds of runners were already congregating and the normal race day activities under way, the atmosphere was already buzzing.
Once again we met up with a few of the Great Run team, always making us feel welcome, and we made our way to the start. We had a quick interview and introduced our latest mascot, Shelly. Tony had had a doll made to represent his wife, Shelly and she will be accompanying us on all the runs now, she has become quite a talking point, with her number on - guess who has the pleasure of carrying her around, yes, me! Pinned to my shirt, no wonder I’m now the slowest, carrying two of us.
We were also again joined by Scottish Jay, another blind chap donned this week in his yellow kilt, but to be fair he also wore a Team Blind Dave shirt. We once again were to be given a few minutes’ head start, the hooter went and off we ran, Jay, having no guide this week, was accompanied by one of the team, namely Dave.
The morning was quite hot, with an occasional breeze, the course was well-supported, which always gives all runners a lift. The course was also somewhat undulating! I would say rather hilly myself, with the ups came downs, but then came the ups again, certainly a slightly testing course.
The lads gave me the normal running commentary. After the first 3k Garry described the Tyne Bridge in the distance, he also mentioned when the hills were coming and, strangely enough, I knew when I was at the top of them.
We ran under the Tyne Bridge, following the river for a short while, a nice downhill at one point but we all know that meant on the way back a climb, land marks were shouted and then around 8k I was told of a sign, the slog on the Tyne! That slog was a sharp, short sweet little hill, only a couple of yards wide and when trying to pass other runners was slightly difficult, Garry pulled and pushed me round them, that little hill certainly caught your attention.
There certainly wasn’t a lot of talking from anyone going up, over the top and it was a run in towards the stadium and the finish. Like the previous week in Newham it was fantastic to finish on the track, this week almost a full circuit but what a great feeling as we crossed the finish line.
Run number 12 completed, with smiles all round, the sun still shining we made our way, after a few photos, back to the Metro station, where Jim met us, back to his house where Laraine greeted us with bacon butties and a welcome cuppa.
Another great day, and the Team Blind Dave bus headed south for home. Next up, we head north once again, this time to the dizzy heights of Scotland and Aberdeen.