Father-Daughter Duo Continue Running Legacy

A father and daughter from Consett are running the Simplyhealth Great North Run together in honour of their running history.

Michael Wright, 54, joined the Gateshead Harriers in his teenage years after being inspired to take up running at school.

Michael said: “I started taking an interest in running after beating the teachers at cross country when I was 11 and had just started secondary school.

“As one of the Gateshead Harriers, I won numerous road & track events and was also coached by Stan Long, who was also Brendan Foster’s coach.

“I ran for England aged 21, competing in two road races of 3 & 6 miles in the old Yugoslavia. 

“Not long after running for England I suffered injuries involving shin splints and trapped nerves, so I had to undergo operations on both legs.

“This ended my competitive career however I continued to run as a hobby and to keep fit.”

When his oldest daughter, Laura, was nine years old, she started to show an interest in Michael’s hobby. 

After joining a local running club, Laura moved on to the Gateshead Harriers herself and competed until she was 16. In 2016, she decided to enter the Great North Run, aged 27.  

Michael said: “Although she did very little training, her natural ability shone through when she completed the half marathon in 2 hours & 1 minute.”

This wasn’t the first time a Wright runner had completed the half marathon, as Michael took part in the first two Great North Run events in 1981 and 1982. 

He said: “I never planned to do it again until watching Laura come in from the 800m-to-go marker last year.

“I wanted to do this together just once, as I am now a 54-year-old father of three with two grandchildren; it’s better to do it now before I get "too" old!”

Laura and Michael will be taking on the 13.1 miles on Sunday 10 September, with events taking place over the whole weekend.

The pair will be using the event as an opportunity to fundraise for a charity that has supported them closely.

Michael said: “We will be running in memory of my father, Les, who sadly passed away in 2015 after a long battle with cancer & dementia. 

“We have chosen to raise money for Willowburn Hospice in Lanchester as they played a vital part in my father’s care towards the end of his life and still help my mam come to terms with the loss. 

“Laura and I want to do this as a family to thank Willowburn for all the amazing work they do.”

He added: “Running is also a great tribute to my father as he fully supported my training when I was younger and made sure I had everything I needed; in his later years always said the running years were the best days of his life.

“However, all that being said, Laura and I are very competitive people and once we cross the start line it will be every man for themselves. May the best Wright win!”

For more information about the Simplyhealth Great North Run, visit our website.