All too quickly the Great North Run has come and gone from my schedule, and my bucket list: hundreds of charities being supported by thousands of volunteers and tens of thousands of runners doing 13.1 miles for all those great causes.  So –  what’s the Great North really like and does it live up to all the hype?

To start with, it’s not only the 13.1 miles of running that faces you.  It’s the decision on whether to leave your transport in Newcastle and run to South Shields or do the opposite and leave it at the end and then get back to where you started!  Metros, taxis, cars, buses and even helicopters come into play. To be honest, I didn’t hear many complaints, as most people accept this as the price you pay to take part in one of the world’s most iconic sporting events alongside 50,000 other brave souls. I was lucky enough to be chauffeur-driven all the way from Nottingham and back by Ian and Gill, with 2 nights’ board and lodging provided by their friends Amanda and Brian (not forgetting Barney the Labradoodle). I did promise to put my review on TripAdvisor but have yet to find their listing! Hopefully they’ll have me back next year, as I’ve promised to run with Amanda for a Sub 2. Between them, my support crew have more than 10 Great Norths and Brian has the claim to fame of running the first one, with the photos and certificate to prove it. What can I say? – with a perfect support crew behind me all the way, I could relax and focus on getting the best out of the whole experience.

Thanks to each and every one of you.



I watched the first ever Great North Run as a fresh faced 18 year old in 1981. By that point in my life my father was already in recovery from his alcohol addiction and I was just getting to grips with moving my own life on, with some difficulty. Yes, back then too I loved to run (escapism I suppose) and I even appeared in the old Glasgow Herald running in my local park, sporting a maroon Dash Track Suit (blast from the past) for a feature on Youth Unemployment in Glasgow. Sport was, and still is my release from the mental pressures that life can present.

Over the years I have often said I will do the Great North Run one day. I now feel very proud to say that I have, and with it the huge bonus of promoting a positive message about recovery from addiction. Addiction recovery was featured twice on the BBC’s live coverage including a very good piece from Geordie Shore’s own Vicky Pattison. Thank you Aunty Beeb for mentioning our cause and in doing so helping challenge the stigma often faced by those suffering the destructive impact of addiction in stark contrast to some of the media who continue to demonise the subject.

So –  to Number 18 – Wow! everything about this is huge. The start area was so long that I couldn’t see the end of it. You don’t get a sense of the scale from the TV. The course is challenging enough, and difficult to run with any rhythm, due to the amount of people around you. I had a fast start, with a long downhill section but paid for it in miles 10 and 11 –  will I ever learn? With over 43,000 finishers it was all in stark contrast to my other Great Run (Yarmouth) where 361 completed the challenge!


The support was outstanding from start to finish. Members of the public spending their hard-earned cash feeding and watering the runners for free, very much appreciated. This year’s theme was  ‘Local Heroes’ –  and there were many – Scooby Doo, Rubik’s Cube, Giant Green Telephone, Bobsleigh Team and not forgetting the thousands of heroes with the very personal messages written on their running tops. You made me cry throughout and kept it real. My heart goes out to all of you and thanks for inspiring me to get round. It was my 18th sub 2 in a row, with a finishing time of 1:55:06 (only 55 mins behind Sir Mo). Slowest of the 18 so far. If I can do the final two in similar times I will have reached my own personal goal of completing all 20 at sub 2 hour pace. Fingers crossed.



So there are two left to go and Number 20 is set to be our home town half marathon at Nottingham’s Robin Hood. Before then I have one more to squeeze in and that’s likely to be Worcester. I’ll keep everyone posted on Twitter.

Best Moment – Too many to mention. Being part of a 43,000 strong river of human kindness is something that will stay with me. Humbled and grateful to take part, and in doing so support others and myself at the same time.

Funniest Moment – Signing up on the day after the race to take on the Birmingham Half Marathon with our friends at another drug & alcohol charity, Changes UK. That will be number 21 which I am seeing as a lap of honour! I must be mad.

Most Inspirational Words – “Don’t worry about your time, just enjoy the time you are having.” – thanks to Nell and “Well Done Young Man” from Craig who has a Commonwealth Gold Medal and represented Team GB at the Olympics in Sydney 2000. Thanks for the donation and kind words.



There are only a couple of days left to join us at the final run in Nottingham, so please get in touch right away. Please e-mail us at or to find out more visit the charity partners’ info page on the marathon website. For those looking for a shorter distance to run there is the new ‘One Mile Challenge’ this year where you can also raise money for the Charity. More details on the event website here.

As always thanks to our service users, The Treat Kitchen, Buckles Solicitors and other supporters who are already signed up to run alongside staff from Café Sobar and Double Impact.

If you would like to make a donation to the campaign please click here.



As a Charity Partner in the Robin Hood Half Marathon this year we need volunteers to help marshal our section near the meadows at around the 11 mile mark where there will also be our ‘Cheering Point’ to support the runners. If you are interested please get in touch at


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