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Running Through Your 'Mind'

22 months ago

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The Great North Run 2016 for Mind Charity

Here is a brief summary of the Great North Run event that we took part in on Sunday 11th September 2016 to raise money for Mind Charity, supporting mental health.

The Great North Run has to be one of the biggest and most prestigious events on the Great Run calendar so it made sense for us to make that the next challenge in our ongoing series of fundraisers. This Half Marathon (13.1 mile) is renowned for being one of the toughest on the list because of its many long relentless hills and how narrow the course is in places.

A huge thanks to my running partner on the day, Peter Curtis-Brown from Vitality and to everyone who very generously donated to our cause.

Getting there:

On the morning of the event, we drove from Durham up to South Shields which is where the finish area is located and where we were advised to park for ease of getting out later on. We set off at 7:45am to get there early and to avoid the traffic but it was still slow even at that time so best to leave plenty of time if you’re thinking about doing it. Parking in South Shields was already limited so we probably couldn’t have left it much later and the queue at the Metro station was already long enough at 8:30am.

NB. You can buy a pre-paid ticket before the event which is a good investment to avoid the queues

The start:

The nearest Metro station is Haymarket and you simply need to follow the crowd to the start area which is only 15 minutes on foot so not far at all. Next challenge is to drop your bags off before the baggage busses leave (we missed them) and you have ‘late busses’ which are there until 12noon if you miss the main ones. We then wondered down to our starting area which was the ‘White Zone’ for slower runners (like us!) and had around a 40 minute wait to get going but there was loads going on! The atmosphere was incredible and the spirit amongst the runners was fantastic.

NB. Queues for toilets are enormous so leave plenty of time!

The Run:

We left the start area at 11:10am (roughly) and worked our way through the city with the rest of the runners in our group and the support was phenomenal…! Having taken part in the London Marathon several years ago, I honestly never thought that I would ever see anything come close to that, but Newcastle and the North East did themselves proud! The streets of the city were lined with supporters, family members, charity busses and anyone else who you could possibly imagine. The biggest and most amazing moment is the Tyne Bridge in the centre of Newcastle and the sheer volume of people and noise as you cross over towards South Shields. As you then work your way out of the city and head towards the dual carriage way out of town, the support just goes on and on for miles which is just awe inspiring!

As you can imagine, there are several BIG hills along the route which are relentless at points and some are fairly steep so can take your breath away if you’re not prepared. Most of the time you can get through the pain simply by the number of people around you and the support from everyone watching along the way, it is incredible what it does for you!

Every mile is marked out along the route so you know where you’re up to and can pace yourself or just so you know how far you’ve already gone, and how far is left. Some mile markers appear to be worse than others as you can imagine and the worst ones for me were between 3 and 6 miles for some reason, but you never can predict what will happen on the day!

The Finish:

As the course winded its way in to South Shields you can clearly tell as things to pick up in every way, more people lining the streets and the noise is incredible! There are several long hills as you come in to the last 3 or 4 miles of the course which is probably the toughest bit of the run but the support seems to push you along. By now we had already been through several water and Lucozade stations as well as the shower units that you can run through to cool down (which were a god send!). Finally you reach the 12 mile marker and the atmosphere here is incredible so you can see why it’s an addictive event that people do year after year…!

There’s a steep hill that takes you down on to the sea front as you come in to the finish area and you then turn hard left on to the final straight section of the course. The mix of emotions at this point is amazing and there are so many people that you just don’t have time to think about how much your legs ache or how exhausted you feel.

The finish is marked out with 800 metre markers, followed by 400, then 200 and finally the finish line as you come on to the grass in the huge park in South Shields. I have never seen anything quite like it before and I certainly hope to be lucky enough to be able to take part in this event again because it all happens so fast and you can’t quite take it all in!

Mind Charity:

I’d like to say a HUGE thanks to the team at Mind Charity for all your support on the day from the seemingly hundreds of other Mind Charity runners and the AWESOME bus which was perfectly placed in the last mile or so! I couldn’t have done this without all of your support and we are incredibly proud to be able to do our bit to help raise money for this incredible cause…!


So far we have raised nearly £900 for Mind from the Great North Run so a fantastic effort from all our generous supporters!

Written by: Dan Sharpe-Szunko (Managing Director)

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