It was the perfect day. The sun was shining and the atmosphere was
electric. Everyone was smiling, either through excitement or nerves (or both).
Some were taking part in their first Great North Run while for others, it was a chance to improve upon their previous
times. Many had taken wonderful journeys to get here and many others were here
because of someone else or some cause close to their hearts. Everyone would get
to share the stage with the world's best distance runners. Something that makes
these events so special.
Although there could only be two elite winners, and both Mo and Mary were
worthy winners and in Mary's case, a record breaking winner, every finisher of
the Great North Run was a winner and everyone of them had the chance of
becoming the 1,000,000 finisher of the Great North Run....all except me.
Not because I am too good and finished well before runner, chosen as one in
a million, but because I didn't finish. I didn't even start. The Tyne Bridge
was a bridge too soon.
The Great North Run came a week too early for me. Recovering from a viral
infection, I made the hardest decision, but the right decision. I decided not
to run. With my train ticket booked and friends running, I did however make the
journey down to South Shields to show my support.
Watching everyone attaching their bibs, preparing themselves for the
amazing run ahead and heading to the buses, I had a momentary desire to pull
put my bib (I had brought it with me) and told myself that I could run it
slowly, that I had travelled down and that it would be ok.
Thankfully, I stopped myself and waved my companions Caroline and Paul on,
envious of the emotions, elation and elevations that lay ahead for them. Even
as the Red Arrows flew overhead, I wanted to fly straight to the start, but how
often do injured and ill runners return too early, only to set ourselves
Instead, I joined the finishing line Cheer Squad. I cheered as the first
finisher, Shelley Woods won the Elite Women's Wheelchair race, before Jordi
Madeira, surged ahead of Simon Lawson to win the Elite Mens Wheelchair race. I
cheered as Mary Keitany hunted down and claimed Paula Radcliffe's course
record, by the narrowest of margins. I cheered as Mo Farah and Mike Kigen battled
it out and cheered even louder as Mo powered ahead to claim the win.
I continued to cheer as the flow of finishers increased and the Millionth
Runner Flag was carried across by the Royal Marines celebrating their 350th
Anniversary and who looked like they could have ran the course several times
over. We then all cheered as Bryan Burnett declared Tracey Cramond the
Millionth Finisher of the world's greatest half marathon; the first road race
to register one million finishers. A remarkable feat and testament to the
vision of the Brendan Foster.
But my loudest cheers were held in reserve for Caroline and Paul. They
might not have broken course records and they finished over two hours after Mo,
but like so many, finishing the Great North Run was a personal milestone for
them. The culmination of months of training, preparation and fundraising for
Scottish Autism. I absolutely hated not being able to run and sitting alone in
the VIP tent watching proud and exhausted runners arrive, I felt miserable.
However, I loved sharing Caroline and Paul's triumphant finish and I was glad
to have been invited to be a part of the Great North Run Millionth Finisher
Bring on the Great Scottish Run and hopefully see you next year, Great
North Run. Here's to the next million.