Well I am just back from two weeks holiday, where I must admit to only doing half a dozen short runs just to keep ticking over. I am, as I have for the last few years running the Great North Run as a chaperone to one of the celebrities. However, with the Run being brought forward a week this year I am even less fit that I would have expected. Hopefully I will be assigned someone who is not looking for too fast a time or else they may have to take care of me!
This years GNR will see the millionth runner cross the finish line since it was first ran in 1981. Which is another first for the GNR as no other mass participation run has ever reached this milestone. Reaching this milestone is, of course, being celebrated and those celebrations got underway last night with an opening ceremony held on the Newcastle and Gateshead quaysides.
Using the Sage Gateshead as a backdrop there were performances on both quays and the river itself. Celebrating the North East as a whole and the GNR in particular. It was a great event, with performances by local people and acts such as Mark Knopfler, Sting and Chase and Status.
While away on holiday I read Richard Askwith's 'Running Free - a runners journey back to nature'. Having previously read his book on fell running, 'Feet in the Clouds' which I had really enjoyed, I had been looking forward to this read.
The main theme to this book is "Big Running". "Big Running" is described as the involvement of 'big business' in the running 'market'. From 'must have' equipment and clothing to mini adventures within a controlled environment provided by organisers of such events as the Mud Runs etc.
I must admit to agreeing with a lot of the arguments presented in this book. However, as the GNR can be described as "Big Running" and as I have described elsewhere in this blog it was the first GNR that got me into running in the first place. I think "Big Running" does have its place but it would be good to see more people make the transition from being a "big runner" to competitive runner or a 'real' adventure runner. Rather than see races as a sort of rite of passage where just completing is the aim or adventure runs within manufactured and controlled conditions.
With regards to this year's race a full list of the elite athletes can be found here
As usual the photos are from Francesca, more photos of the evening can be found here