Our Home on the Leas
Charlie’s story tells us about the part he plays in the build up to the Great North Run each year.
Everyone’s Great North Run is different, mine is a cornerstone in my year, I know for three weeks each year, that sometimes sunny, often wet, always windy Leas would be my temporary home. Whilst I still feel like a bit of a new boy in some ways, and you have to bear in mind that some of the team have been involved since 1981 this will be my 17th event and for a long time now I’ve been in charge of the finish at South Shields.
Switching on the TV on the day of the event it may seem like a big, solid mass of a gathering, a fixed point in the sporting calendar. But for me it always feels pretty transient. Just like the runners we prepare for months for one day, hundreds of tasks have to come together to deliver something that really only exists for a very short space of time. The finish itself takes 2 weeks to build and 1 to break down. The course only finally links together at 9:45 on the day of the run and until then we’re a building site by the seaside.
On race day we become the finish of the Great North Run and the focus of 57.000 individual stories. Our team on the ground will swell from a handful of crew and contractors on day one to over 1000 on the big day itself. As well as all the services for the runners we also need to look after those that look after them so our time is spent putting in water, power, tents, roads, loos and lots more for the medics, volunteers, officials, TV, media, caterers and charity groups that descend on the shields for one day every year.
Our home on the Leas is many things to many people, a place to walk dogs, fly kites, build an event, watch it unfold and to complete the worlds most famous half marathon. You’ll see a lot of things on Great North Run day, you’d have to be made of stone to stand on the finish line and not be moved by the experience of watching so many people cross that line in so many different states.
Completing 13.1 miles moves people physically, geographically and emotionally. We’ve seen everything from the mid event scattering of ashes at the finish to a marriage proposal once over the line. No births yet but there’s plenty of time.
Great North Greats
Celebrating the millionth runner to cross the finish line of the Great North Run with stories of determination, energy and world firsts.]