It was so great to be back yesterday after last year’s virtual version!
It wasn’t a fully normal GNR. Due to various issues such as the Tyne and Wear Metro not wanting tens of thousands of people crowding onto the Metro in South Shields after the race, the course was changed so that instead of running to South Shields, we all turned back at the halfway point and returned to Newcastle. To avoid the usual crowding, we were also all set off in waves, with the elite wheelchair athletes setting off at 9:15am and the last of the mass runners not starting till after 1pm, so it really was a full-day event (especially for the spectators and volunteers, who all did brilliantly – the charity cheering points were still in full voice when I was going round between 11ish and 2ish!).
The expectation is that things will be fully back to normal next year. However, I am so glad that it was able to go ahead this year, even in an altered form, and in some ways there were a few advantages – due to Geth being allocated a slightly later wave than me, I was able to wave to him when he overtook me at three miles and again when I spotted him going the other way on the out-and-back at about five and a half miles, whereas we don’t see each other en route at all when it’s the normal course. It was also nice to be able to walk home from the finish on the Town Moor rather than having to queue for the Metro!
There were some tough uphills in the ‘unknown’ section (the last part of the run around central Gateshead and Newcastle), but I had expected that, knowing the area, and due to my slow plodding pace I didn’t really mind them (I’ve been doing a lot of hills in my marathon training so it was fine). I knew as soon as I saw them that Geth wouldn’t have liked them, though, which was confirmed by him complaining about them for the rest of the day!
I was about half an hour slower than my half marathon PB, but that’s just the way it is at the moment – marathon training has slowed my pace right down, and given that getting round London is my main goal for this season, it wasn’t the right time to race a half marathon properly. I’ll stick to spring marathons in the future so that I can tackle the GNR at full speed in future years! However, because of all the postponements from last year, races just had to fall where they fell this year rather than me planning out the season as I usually would. I’m just grateful to have them back at the moment.
Back to South Shields next year, which I’m sure will be just as much of a return party as yesterday was!
And in the meantime, for me, onwards to London…