Great North Run – FUCK YOU.

I am a Dewhurst, no matter how many changes I have to my name I will always consider myself a Dewhurst, my children are Dewhurst’, my Grandchildren are Dewhurst. Dewhurst will live on forever!  Being a Dewhurst means we have weird hair and baggy eye bags, we have a family fat gene that is passed on through the generations, we have BIG babies and we are determined (stubborn).

This weekend was Great North Run weekend and I have pretty much been planning it since I ran it last year. Last year I wasn’t shit and I didn’t die, and I was happy with my time but felt I could do better. So within days of finishing last year I signed up for a guaranteed place for this year (and the next two!)

Many plans were made for this weekend, I think I finally ended up on Plan Z.1 !!

This is going to be a long one, so grab a cuppa and a couple of biscuits, if you have got this far it looks like you are in for the long haul.

Last weekend I had a call from the travel lodge where we are staying, my heart skipped a beat “NO, don’t tell me there’s a fuck up with the booking a week before the run, i’ll never get somewhere else to stay now”

“Hi, we like to offer all our running guests a bus to the start line for £2 a head do want to book ?”

Thank fuck !! yes, yes, i’ll book that thank you

The original plan was that I was going to be travelling with Annette (the bitch) and Bex (my daughter) and on the day I would be paced to a PB by Annette and Pete, a scary thought at the best of times, but it was rather exciting to be paced by these two, Annette whom I absolutely adore; tolerates my abuse with good humour and regularly makes it her mission to get me to swear at her. Pete is riding high on the fact that he has run with me several times and has not yet been told to “fuck off” !

Dylan, the boy wonder, came off his bike at high speed, crashing into a car and giving himself some incredibly painful bumps, bruises and cuts, meaning Annette wasn’t able to come away. Sad for Annette but actually not a major issue, Dylan needed her and it just meant a few changes to the plan, I would now be driving and Petes’ chance of being sworn at had quadrupled (at least). I was a little gutted to find out that her “distraction” from not coming running would be a dinner out ……….. with pudding (FFS, she obviously wasn’t going to miss running with me that much!)

Bex and I left home at about 1pm, Sat Nag saying we would arrive at 4.45pm we plugged in (her) tunes and off we went. We had a fairly uneventful journey and after a stop for a wee and a leg stretch we arrived at our travel lodge just after 5.15pm. The staff were lovely, lots of encouraging notices for runners, we booked onto the 8.30 bus for our 15 minute journey to the start (remember that sentence, its important), dumped our stuff in our “family room” which had 2 single beds and a large double, (I nabbed the double) I had a huge PRP and we headed out to the pub on the other side of the roundabout for dinner (which was lovely) and pudding (even lovelier).

Run day arrived, and the real fun started, I woke about 7 and Bex was already awake, we started to get ready, conscious that we had been warned to be in reception for 8.15 for our 8.30 bus for our 15 minute journey, I boiled the kettle for our porridge (which Bex promptly used for coffee !) so I boiled it again, poured it into my pot, stirred it, left it, started to eat it, a MASSIVE glob of dried milk – fucking gross, even worse my tummy wasn’t awake and I couldn’t actually finish it ( I normally have breakfast about 10am, 7.30 was just way to chuffing early) We dumped our bags in the car, had everything we needed, filled in our bag drop bag labels and went into reception to await our bus.

We were greeted by a VERY bouncy reception lady who was clearly VERY excited to be hosting runners, as she bounced happily between everyone offering free bananas and free muesli type bars, and her sidekick who was armed with a list of people who were booked onto the buses.

Our 8.30 bus didn’t arrive at 8.30 and the sidekick was straight onto the phone chasing it up, no problem at all, I wasn’t at all stressed (I was, but I was trying to hide it) we had loads of time, she was saying we had loads of time, it was only a 15 minute journey.  The bus finally arrived at about 8.50 and sidekick said in a very official voice “I’m going to run down the list of booked names in order of booking” and proceeded to call people out, fill the bus at which time a second multi seat taxi arrived, she was still calling out names, but I think other people just got on and didn’t follow her list.

WE didn’t make the cut (stress level for me and Bex are rising surprisingly quickly) – sidekick is back on the phone ” do nay worry, anorra busll be hair in a coupla mi nuts” she says, as her very bouncy receptionist brings round another basket of muesli and bananas !

We finally made it onto a bus at about 9.15 am, but pretty much only thanks to a couple of lovely gents who saw our distress and suggested that as we needed bag drop we should get on the next bus. There was a mini bus full of scouts who were obviously there for manning the water station, so I dropped very loud hints that perhaps the scouts could help us out by lending us there leader and there bus, I also went and asked some workmen. (I swear had i been 30 years younger I would have nailed that bus and got us a free lift) Bex had already abandoned her bag drop into the back of my car, I was hanging onto mine (although fuck knows why, I didn’t collect it last time and was pretty sure I wouldn’t collect it this time either) we got on the bus and our driver said, ” I think I’m going to the start, I’m just not sure if its the best way” fuck my life, seriously, your a fucking taxi driver, drive!

Bag drop closes at 10.05, we left the hotel at 9.15 for a 15 minute journey, at 9.30 we were over taken by the people we left behind at the hotel, in a bus driven by a scouts leader !! 9:45 I looked at google maps and it said 17 minutes drive to the start line. In fairness to google, it was spot on !! at 10.03 we got off the bus and I practically dragged poor Bex to the line of bag drop buses, first one full, second one full, shit a duck, 3rd one full, keep walking, up the hill, 4th one, doors are closing I looked pleadingly “please, just this little one” so they wrote the bus number on my run number and let me put my bag on. I’m bus number 35, again its important to remember this. I texted Pete, having missed our meeting point and advised him well in advance that I would do so, I decided that it would be a good plan to meet in the holding pen, at this point Bex needs a wee!

Have you ever had a toddler that needs a wee, cant wait, and there is no loo in sight? well it was kinda like that only there were 800 toilets, toilets everywhere, as far as the eye could see, there was no issue finding a toilet, the problem was there was a queue 3 people wide and 100 people long for each loo! we will go to the pen I said, there are loos in there. so off we went, up the hill, being a back of the packer means that your holding pen is at the top of the hill.  There were loos, there were about 10 loos in our holding pen alone, the problem was, there were about 1000 billion people queuing for them! Time for a bush wee ……… it was the only option, poor Bex looked kinda horrified when I first mentioned it, I pointed to all the men and said “look, its fine, no one cares!” I walked her up by a van (full of men) and sent her up the bank into the bushes, where there were several other women also bush weeing, Bex shot up, did her stuff came down, at which point I decided I might as well try, so I shot up to the back, bottoms down to mid thigh, arse out, quick pee, everything back in place and heading down before one of the girls who was already peeing when Bex headed up had even finished, that girl had taken the message to “hydrate” to the extreme. And what’s with getting your arse so close to the floor, one girl was practically wiping her foo foo on the grass, not only am I jealous that she can crouch that low, but i would be seriously worried about ant bites. I am seriously impressed that we managed to create a “ladies” in the bush and managed to actually get some men to say ” where’s the gents” and actually head off to a different bush, I am also really impressed by the blokes in the van right in front of our “ladies loo” who were not at any point sniggering or looking at all the ladies using the bush loo,

Still haven’t connected with Pete, I sent messages to say I would head off without him, he sent one back to say he was at the back and would find me….. he took this awesome photo, lets face it the chance of finding me in this were slim to fucking zero, but bless him for thinking he could

The runners started, we headed down through the pens, I was still foolishly confident that Pete would find me, and that all would be well. It had all gone wrong with one late bus, I had missed meeting him where it would be easy to contact each other and now 50,000 people were all sending their loved ones messages and my messages to Pete weren’t getting through.  We nudged down the pen and I noticed a lady who was using sign language trying to tell her father that she wanted a photo of the two of them together at the start. I used my amazing sign language skills to tell her that I would take it for her. This involved tapping her on the arm, pointing to her phone, then at the her dad, then her, She smiled, nodded and handed me her phone. I took the photos and gave the phone back with a thumbs up and a smile, we proceeded to chat ( in sign) for about 5 minutes, considering my sign language consists of scuba diving signals and I didn’t think Shark or turtle were very appropriate, we actually did ok, I conveyed that I had done 1 before and that Bex was my daughter and it was her first, she conveyed that it was her first. I was pretty fucking chuffed that I tried and I don’t think I looked to much of a knob.

I accidently butt (and then front butt) grazed a bloke behind me, I think he must have turned round to see who touched his arse, when I got him again, he very jovially said it was his best GNR to date thanks to me, unfortunately I managed to graze him about another 20 times before we crossed the start line, his friend thought it was hilarious.

And then we were off, Bex and I started the GNR hand in hand across that line, and then I let go and set off to do my own thing.  First mile felt pretty good (for someone who hates running) mile 2 goes well and before I know it I’m heading towards the Iconic Tyne Bridge, I am aware that there is a camera on the far end so I line myself in the middle of the bridge in order to get at least one decent race photo.  I looked to the left and saw a face, a face I knew, I couldn’t believe it, literally 2 feet to my left its PETE !!! Fuck me, I’m so pleased,  Pete, PETE, PEEEEETE I shout (this guy is like 2 feet away, how can he not hear me?!)

On we go, running, chatting, both ( I hope) pleased that we found each other.  Mile 3 eats away, Its hot, its really hot, unbelievably hot. Mile 4 was a bit pants, the hills (of which there are many) are long and dragging, they are not particularly steep but fuck me they go on and on and on and are quickly replaced by another one, I had forgotten this aspect of this run. Nothing massively steep, just long arsed slopes that drain you.

I started up another hill and was hit with a wave of “I’m going to throw up” there was no reason behind it, It just happened, my head was spinning, my stomach was churning, I didnt know what to so, so I walked (again) I told Pete, we chatted, but not knowing what the cause was I didn’t know how to fix it. We walked up the slope and set off again, as soon as I started running again, another wave came over me. This continued until Mile 6, I walked within 10 feet of my car, I considered for a second or two, just sitting in my car until it was all over, but that’s not what Dewhurst’s do, we are stubborn and determined and when the chips are down…… we pull our big girl pants up and push on. I knew that I could do better, and I was cross and disappointed in myself, I also felt really bad for Pete who deserved to have a good run, and my having to walk was causing him physical pain. I don’t mind annoying people by having them run slowly with me, but I don’t want to cause anyone physical pain. I sent Pete on with my blessing, he reluctantly agreed, and I am glad that he did, I had one less thing to feel shit about.

Somehow I made it to mile 9. I genuinely dont know how, by now I wasn’t even attempting to run, everything hurt, every change in pace made me feel dizzy, every change in effort at a slope made me feel sick and dizzy, I was on a roundabout of feelings (sick, faint, hot, cold, cry, get cross) and I couldn’t decide if I wanted to get off, or just curl up and not move. I went to sit on a barrier by the mile 9 sign, but as soon as I sat i had to stand up again, if I hadn’t I would have passed out. 9.5 there was a St John, I asked where the nearest tent was, he said mile 10. So off I went again, if I was going to pass out, I wasn’t going to do it in the middle of the fucking road and have all these people step over me that was for absolute certain. Between mile 9 and mile ten I was overtaken by a lady who was “proud to be walking”, 3 inflatable giraffes, a chap carrying ( and drinking) a 12 pack of ciders who gave some to the ladies in front of me because they looked like they needed it ……… I was fucking dying, I wanted cider, did I look like I needed it? apparently fucking not (arsehole)

I made it to the St John tent, stood by the fence and cried, swore a few times and promptly started to wobble, a very nice (really VERY nice) young man caught me and sat me down, they pricked my finger, took my oxygen levels, took my blood pressure, gave me a tissue and patted my shoulder in a patronisingly comforting kinda way. I saw my Bex and stupidly (or maybe not) shouted her name, I told her to carry on, I was surprised (and a little pissed) that she was so close behind me !! but having seen her face, and knowing her well, I knew she would worry, knowing that got me off my fat arse and back onto the road, if I could keep her in sight, if she could look back and see me, she would be ok.  So off I went again.

Somewhere along the way, between mile 9 and 11, a chap shouted from the side of the road “come on redways” only a redway would say that, I  have no idea who it was, but I am convinced it was a redway and I am very grateful to that person. We are a club and we support each other.

The start of the last long arse drag, I yelled abuse to Bex, she laughed, and I had a go at running, (bad decision) I decided I was going to chat up the bloke beside me, he was about 103 but wtf, it was worth a giggle, for some reason he wasn’t keen on nipping behind the bush for a bit of “how’s your father” he wasn’t sure his knees could take it, I suggested politely that I had no idea what he had in mind, but I wasn’t planning anything that involved standing up or moving vigorously!

Top of the hill, 1 mile to go, the longest mile in the history of miles, the mile that feels like 3, but fuck me what a mile, its the mile that says you have nearly made it, the mile where every fucking arsehole on the beach is drinking beer or eating ice cream (or both)

I was minutes behind Bex, but every time I tried to run my arse cheeks went fuck off and my head decided to listen. 800 mtr sign and Bex is still on plan, I look at my watch and think nearly 4 hours, I am NOT going over 4 hours, I would rather quit here. I caught her up at about 400 metres to go, and said, something like “you have 4 minutes to get your arse over that line for a sub 4 hour finish”

We cut it a bit fine, but we did it !!

we sat on the grass and cried, laughed, took photos then finally decided to move, heading down towards the bag drop bus a miracle happened, well two actually. We bumped into Pete and Sadie (Bex and I both cried again) Pete gave me a fabulous present, not that I deserve it, but it is lovely and …. I saw my bus – bus number 35 right at the front of the buses !! unbelievable.  I waddled over, clambered aboard, grabbed my bag and the bus driver very nicely helped me back off the bus again.

On the bus back to New Kastle we were at a roundabout in a HUGE queue of traffic, the doors opened and a lad hopped off like a gazelle, headed for a bush and struck a pose, and there he stayed, as his fountain poured, and poured and poured (everyone on the top deck was commenting about his impressive level of hydration) I can honestly say I don’t think I have ever seen anyone pee for so long, when he hopped back on the bus, which had only moved about 5 feet he got a huge cheer from both decks.

We headed into New Kastle town and suddenly a tickle of “oh do fuck off” went from the front to the back of the bus, we had all seen some nutters in there run kit, complete with run numbers and medals RUNNING along the pavement. The bus journey was very jolly with comments of “doing it again next year?”  being greeted by a chorus of “NO” and other such delightful comments. We chatted to the ladies behind, and the couple in front and sat on the bus for over an hour as we travelled about 10 miles !

The bus stopped at central railway station, and we all got up to a mixture of oohs and ows and fucks, every step down the stairs hurt and I made sure everyone on the bus knew it. A lovely chap at the bottom held his arm out to help me off the bottom step ( if he was a gentleman he would have climbed the steps and helped me down each one)

The people of Newcastle and South Shields and everywhere in between are incredible, they are fun, and funny, supportive and helpful, and they are what make the GNR great, the course could do with ironing out so its flatter, but actually its a nice course and I love that for 90% of it there are people along the edge clapping and cheering and being lovely.

BUT…. I am not letting my last GNR be a 4 hour GNR and next year is their 40th edition, and I cannot possibly let Annette get away with not running with me for a proper long run so


FUCK YOU GNR I am coming back in 2020, you will not defeat me, I AM A DEWHURST and I wont give in until I get my goal.