Expat returns home from Australia to take part in first Great North Run

Australian Tony Jackson completed his first Great North Run at the age of 63.
Australian Tony Jackson completed his first Great North Run at the age of 63.

It was a g’day for expat Tony Jackson as he completed his first Great North Run at the age of 63.

The former Jarrovian – who emigrated to Australia in the 70s – travelled back to the UK to take on the half-marathon after being challenged to take part by his friend Michael Gatens.

The 13.1- mile course, from Newcastle to South Shields, was the biggest run Tony participated in and he says it was a “great experience”.

The carpenter, who leaves the UK tomorrow after five weeks of visiting friends and family, said: “When Michael found out last year that I was visiting at the time of the run, he challenged me to get involved, so I thought I would give it a go. It wasn’t what I was expecting at all.”

He added: “I had been training for it back home. But when I came over to visitg family around the UK, as time was getting closer, I was starting to get more nervous.

“I have never been in a run that big before. It was a great experience.”

I have never been in a run that big before, it was a great experience.

Tony Jackson

He praised the crowds, which he said really “spurred him on” as he made his way to the finishing line in a time of two hours, 28 minutes.

He said: “It was amazing. All the crowds, all the children. It does give you an adrenalin rush to push you on.

“When I was running, I went better than I thought I would. I didn’t stop until I got to the 11 mile mark.

“I’ve never run that far before.

Australian Tony Jackson aged 63 after his first Great North Run

Australian Tony Jackson aged 63 after his first Great North Run

“I did start to struggle towards the end. The last kilometre seemed to last forever.

“But the encouragement from the crowds as you go past is fantastic. I was running near the kerb, there were a lot of kids who were putting their hands out for high fives – so I tried to do as many as I could and the excitement in their voices was amazing.

“When I went to receive my medal and I stopped for the first time, that’s when my legs seemed to stop working.

“But it really was a great experience.

“Logistically, I don’t know how they do it. Everything is in place. It was a much bigger event than I imagined.”