Runners and charity fundraisers gathered in Gateshead International Stadium today to launch the Morrisons Great North 10k Gateshead. The North East's biggest 10k running event will return on Sunday 5 July, with up to five-thousand runners crossing the finish line on the track inside the stadium.
Now in its seventh year, the 10k will once again take in iconic landmarks on the Quayside including Sage Gateshead, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge.
Every year around half the entrants in this event also take part in the Morrisons Great North Run, many of them using the 10k as a training run ahead of the half marathon in September.
One of those runners is Nikki Dodds from Durham, who is running both events for St Benedict's hospice in Ryhope, in memory of her uncle who lost his two year battle with cancer in December.
Nikki suffers from a rare condition called Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension (IIH), caused by increased pressure in the CSF fluid around the brain. The symptoms include severe headaches, dizziness, fatigue and in some cases loss of vision.
Now an ambassador for IIH UK charity, she said: “There is no known cause and therefore no known cure for the condition. The treatment options available are limited, medication and shunts are used but these are not designed to treat the condition specifically. In July 2008 I had my first lumbar-peritoneal shunt inserted at the RVI in Newcastle as doctors' were concerned about my vision.
“Having this condition has changed my life. I had to retire from playing rugby and have had several spells off-work due to the operations and the symptoms of the condition. I then began to gain weight because of this.
“I first started running in 2012 to help recover from an operation, lose weight and regain my fitness. This was the first year I took part in the Morrisons Great North 10k Gateshead.
“I have now lost five stone, and this year my aim is to run the whole 10k, as I have never managed to do this in the past.”
Louiza Caulfield from North Tyneside is running to raise money for Tiny Lives Fund at the RVI, after her son Felix was born weighing just 1lb.
She said: “Tiny Lives supported our family by providing extras to make the experience of neonatal care a little easier. Felix was discharged from hospital after two months weighing only 3lb 8oz, and I have pledged to raise money for Tiny Lives, as without them I don't know how we would have made it through the other side. I'm very excited about doing the Morrisons Great North 10k Gateshead, as it's my first event of any kind, so I'm super excited to be a part of it.”
Colin Plews from South Shields has raised over £8000 for Breast Cancer Campaign and Breakthrough Breast Cancer, after his friend Janet was diagnosed with the disease.
Known as the ‘Big Pink Dress', he said: “I ran the Morrisons Great North Run last year in this dress, and I'm doing it again this year, but before that I'm doing the Morrisons Great North 10k Gateshead, which I'm looking forward to. I used to run in Gateshead International Stadium when I was kid so I'm excited about finishing here on the day.”
Paul O'Neil from Newcastle is taking on a series of challenges in aid of MS Trust, as his cousin suffers from the disease.
He said: “This is one of twenty events that I'm going to be taking part in, as I'll be running over 300km in the space of 12 months. Personally I can't wait to finish inside the stadium as I've always wanted to do it, and my training is going well so I'm hoping to get a good time.”
David Hart, communications director at The Great Run Company, said: “Since the first staging in 2007, the Morrisons Great North 10k Gateshead has grown in status to the region's biggest 10k run. It's also the sister event to the Morrisons Great North Run, and the perfect opportunity to get some miles in ahead of the big one in September, which is exactly what World and Olympic marathon champion Stephen Kiprotich did last year.
“We look forward to welcoming thousands of people to the start line in July, and whether they're taking part for fundraising, fitness or fun, it will be a day to remember.”
Gateshead Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, Councillor Linda Green, said: “Gateshead has a long established reputation for hosting major sporting events and we are delighted that the Morrisons Great North 10k Gateshead is taking place again this year.
“This is a great route which will see competitors taking in some of Gateshead's most iconic sights along the way and finishing on the same track that sporting greats such as Mo Farah have competed on, at Gateshead International Stadium.”
As the new title sponsor of the Great Run Series, Morrisons have nominated Sue Ryder as their official charity for 2015. Jason Clement, a baker at Morrisons in Doxford Park, will be taking on the challenge in aid of the charity. A Morrisons spokesperson said: “We wish every colleague running the very best of luck. Thanks to anyone and everyone who is using this run as an opportunity to raise money for our charity partner Sue Ryder.”