The Great North Run 2023

In the true fashion of the Wallis family, our weekend commenced with a whirlwind. After wrapping up work at HQ, we hastily loaded a couple of bags of clothes into the van and embarked on a journey up the A19. The sun dipped below the horizon, casting a warm glow on the fields as farmers gathered their harvest. Our destination was Creswell, a quaint coastal village north of Newcastle, where we had arranged to stay in a caravan. Once we arrived, we unpacked the car, prepared a lasagne, and settled in for a good night's sleep.


Saturday greeted us at 7 am, as the joys of parenthood dictated a morning walk on the beach with our dogs. The scenery left me utterly awestruck; it was undeniably beautiful. After a satisfying lunch, we returned to the beach, where, despite a rather disappointing British summer, I revelled in the moment, basking in the sun while the girls frolicked in the refreshing sea.

Sunday arrived with palpable nerves and a heightened sense of purpose. We set our alarms early, preparing to head to the Callerton Metro station to ensure we had ample time to reach the city centre. Our mini fanbase was also gearing up to make their way to South Shields, eagerly awaiting our triumphant finish.

As I stood there, surrounded by an immense sea of participants, it struck me just how many individuals had entered the Great North Run, despite my prior knowledge of the 60,000 entrants, in real life the sheer volume hits you. The sun blazed relentlessly above, a daunting prospect with 13.1 miles stretching ahead. It was an incredible feeling to represent the S&B brand and connect with a customer right at the starting line.

The starting pistol marked the commencement of Sir Mo Farah's very last competitive race, accompanied by Mark Knopfler's "Going Home" resonating from the PA system. Goosebumps abounded as the race officially began. Forty minutes later, I finally crossed the starting line. I adjusted my pace to account for the unrelenting heat, and fortunately, Prostate Cancer, my chosen charity, had provided a cooling vest, a welcome relief on such a warm day.

The race took us through tunnels and over bridges, with energetic "oggy oggy oggy" chants echoing in the air. Bands along the course gave outstanding performances that lasted for hours. However, it was on a slight incline back onto a dual carriageway that I heard a spectator's speaker blaring Sam Fender's music in a thick Geordie accent, sending shivers down my spine. The crowd was incredible, offering sweets, ice lollies, and even the occasional hosepipe to help runners cool down. I'll be the first to admit that my training left much to be desired, but I was pleased with my official chip time. Although my watch recorded nearly an extra 0.2 miles due to weaving through the field, it was a satisfying accomplishment. As an added bonus, as I crossed the finish line, the Red Arrows treated us to an impressive overhead display.

With medal and T-shirt in hand, it was time to rehydrate and rejuvenate. However, due to the finish line congestion, it took me over an hour to locate my family. During this time, a storm rolled in, unleashing torrential rain, flooding the metro and leaving 60,000 runners plus spectators stranded in the rain with limited options. This was far from ideal, especially with a baby in tow. Soaked to the bone, we sat on a bus for two hours, with the finish line still in sight..

The weather may have cast a shadow over an otherwise great day, leading to a late-night return home at 1:30 am. Many have asked me how the Great North Run compares to the London Marathon. It's a tough comparison because they're quite different experiences. Trying to compare them feels like doing a disservice to the Great North Run. What I can say is that you should run in London; the GNR is undoubtedly a significant achievement. Still, the London Marathon feels grander, with a more intense crowd and double the distance set against a stunning backdrop. On the other hand, the Great North Run offers greater accessibility. Ultimately, it's a matter of personal preference.

Now with that glimpse of the North East making an impression, we will be back visiting that coast before too long.


So pleased you enjoyed it. Every year when i take part i wish that I could bottle the atmosphere and bring it out whenever I’m feeling a bit low😊well done on your achievement Anthony x

Helen Jephson September 20, 2023

Love the blogs don’t stop please keep sharing

Vicki September 12, 2023

Amazing achievement. Well done very proud of you. What’s nexted? 🤣🤣

Caroline September 12, 2023

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