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Action for Children The Great North Run 2013

14/09/2013

When I joined SVT Ltd back in March – little did I know what I was letting myself in for? It seems that by securing a job as a humble assessor for the Health & Social care awards – it guaranteed me a place in this year’s Great North Run!
SVT Ltd sponsor Action for Children and they kindly invited members of the team to run with them – of which I was one of them. Not a problem I’m left thinking – I can do that. I did plan on running it for a charity in 2014 but hey it’s good to change your plans every now and then.

I downloaded a training schedule from the Great North Run and watched what I ate – but nothing really prepared for the experience I had over the weekend 14/15th September ‘13

Myself and fellow SVT Ltd colleague, Cheryl Watson, booked ourselves into a hotel to stay overnight so we were fully rested for the challenged that lay ahead of us – little did we know that this was the same hotel that half the cast of Emmerdale were booked into. How lovely they were too; there to support a different charity and some with their children that took part in events held on Saturday 14th September.

The hotel and staff were brilliant in helping to prepare for the great day ahead of us by providing vital information on the best ways to get to the starting line, a Pasta menu the night before the great day, a nutritious breakfast on the morning of the great day, water and a nutrition bar for each member running amongst others things.

So race day comes…..I’ve never felt that sick in a long time – wondering why and how I had let myself get talked into something as huge as this until I stopped and looked around at the race vests of other people who were taking part and felt so humbled and fortunate to be in this position where I was able to do something for charity.

We walked half way across Newcastle then a further mile or so to get to our starting point in our zone – which incidentally was right at the very back of the world’s largest queue of half marathon runners!  At this point I’m beginning to think that to enable me to complete the course – I’m going to need the Ambulance services to get me round in one piece – Cheryl – as ever was a cool as a cucumber – her only complaint was that she felt hungry!

We did the warm up, and watched as the elite wheelchair athletes, elite women and then elite men’s races started then it was our turn.

What an awesome start…..the Red Arrows put in an appearance – anyone who knows me well knows how passionate I am about these – Cheryl however was left wondering why I was reduced to tears! (They do have that effect on me) it took us 40 minutes to get from the back of the Pink zone to the start of the half marathon….along with the start of the rain! Did I mention that the forecast that day wasn’t a good one…..?

I have to say how amazing the crowd where – coming out in the rain to show their support, some had banners of support for people they knew where taking part, others had good luck flags. People were shouting out our names and words of encouragement. Children had their hands held out wanting to be high fived and were pleased when we gave them a high five. Further down the route to South Shields, there were people who had set up roadside assistance in the way of offering cups of water, plates of fruit, chocolate treats and handfuls of jelly babies. This wasn’t the official boost zone – this was the kind general public.

We got to mile 10 – this was where I needed the much need verbal kick up the rear end from Cheryl – she wasn’t stopping for no one and we WERE going to cross the finish line come hell or high water – but she wasn’t going to be last for anyone, even me! Then the biggest boost ever (for me) came in the form of a huge red heart in the sky – yes the Reds were back again and yes once again did I burst into tears (not for the last time that day either). The official boost zone sits here too – much needed for both myself and Cheryl in the form of orange quarters, more jelly babies and Powerade!
Mile 12 was my worst – along with that came a headache and my energy had gone –totally gone until I saw the large decline down the road with the sea at the end of it so I figured that we were almost here.

This is it we had done the worst, the crowd support was considerably huge and people were so generous with their kind words so there was no way I was failing at this hurdle –besides the official Bupa cameras were at this part (the only time I spotted them). 400 metres left to go and the rain came again – then we both spotted that beautiful image right at the end – the finish line – what an amazing sight and how it spurs you on that little bit more.

We crossed the line as we had started together – we had done it – we both burst into tears – of joy and relief!
What an achievement for both us – our first ever half marathon completed with pride for ourselves, for our company SVT and for Action for Children.

We have so far raised over £700 and the donations are still coming in. We completed the Great North Run in under 3 hours – a reasonable time I feel.

I for one would like to thank SVT ltd for the experience –but kindly ask – please don’t put me through it again!

Joe Pope

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