Tomorrow I shall be running in my 12th consecutive Great North Run – the world’s largest half marathon – and, whilst my times having been getting progressively worse for the most part, we have at least become a dab-hand at the travel arrangements surrounding the event. So I’m not going to give any tips on properly hydrating yourself, pasta-packing the night before or correctly pacing yourself on the day; instead I’m going to give a few hopefully helpful pointers for your travel arrangements should you choose to take on the challenge again next year.
1. Get a guaranteed place
If you want to avoid the disappointment of not getting into future Great North Runs, why not get a guaranteed place? You pay a premium for this but it saves you the trouble of desparately scrambling around for a charity place along with everyone else should you not be automatically accepted.
2. Plan early
A provisional date for the 2011 Great North Run will probably be announced tomorrow. Take note of this and plan ahead. But beware, this date can change. It is only provisional because they need to make sure that it is going to fit in with BBC TV scheduling, so it can change. Indeed, a couple of years back it did change and I was lucky enough to hear about this and managed to book a room in a Travelodge at just £29. An absolute steal for Great North Run weekend but one that Travelodge still honoured. Book now, but make sure your hotel will amend your booking accordingly if the date should change or, at the very least, check up on their cancellation policy.
3. Stay in South Shields
This is what I’m going to be doing this evening. I’ll get up tomorrow, have breakfast, take the Metro to the start line and then run (or walk!) to the finish where my family will be there to meet me. Simples.
4. Or why not make a week of it?
Why not take a holiday and stay in the area for the week? There’s a beautiful stretch of coastline just north of Newcastle that is well worth exploring. We’ve often stayed in Seahouses or Bamburgh which are both lovely villages.
5. When you’ve finished, leave!
Getting out of South Shields after the event can be a bit of a headache sometimes. My advice would be to try and make your getaway soon after you complete your race, particularly if your finish time is around the 2-hour mark or better. Of course, you must do all the appropriate stetching, etc. after running the event but, assuming you’re fit to do so, I suggest you don’t linger too long – as more and more people finish, so the congestion and the queues for public transport get worse.
If you’ve any further tips, or would like to share your experiences of the day or past Great North Runs, please post a commment. Oh, and the very best of luck to anyone taking part!