A PROUD grandson will be following in his family’s footsteps when he lines up for his first-ever Great North Run next month.
Jonathan Smith will be going the extra mile in the famous half marathon in tribute to his late grandad James Smith – who took part in a remarkable 21 Great North Runs in a row.
The determined 26-year-old never got the chance to complete the 13-miler alongside his grandad, who died of heart failure at the age of 81 in May.
But he will be lacing up his running boots in tribute to the man he calls the ‘best grandad’.
James didn’t complete his first Great North Run until the age of 49, but didn’t hang up his running vest until the age of 70.
He also crossed the finishing line in a host of major races, including three London Marathons, the last when in his sixties in 1995.
Jonathan, a steel engineer, from Simonside View, Jarrow, is ready to show a love of the sport runs in the family.
Jonathan said: “He was the best grandad. He was always very independent and also loved to swim. He was always very fit.
“He was modest about what he did but he was very well known.
“I never got to do the run with him, and when he died I knew I had to take part in tribute to him.
“There might be a few tears on the start line.”
Jonathan will be cheered on by his family as he tackles the gruelling route from Newcastle to South Shields – just like his grandad was.
Mum and dad Graham and Deborah Smith, both 54, sister Joanne, 28, and her daughters Olivia, five, and Sophia, 11 months, will be among the relatives willing him to the finish line.
Jonathan added: “I will be making a stop near the Robin Hood pub, where all the family will be watching. That is where my grandad always used to stop to chat during the race.”
Jonathan will be wearing a T-shirt with James’ picture on it, which will also be emblazoned with his long list of running achievements.
He also plans to run with all 21 of James’ medals for finishing the Great North Run, spanning three decades from 1982 to 2002,
Jonathan is now stepping up training for the race, ahead of the starter’s gun being fired on Sunday, September 7.
He is hoping to raise funds from the Great North Run for the British Heart Foundation and is in the process of setting up a fundraising page for donations.
n Have you got a Great North Run story to share with our readers? Call the Gazette newsdesk on 427 4858 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org