Great North Run: 20 reasons why it's an emotional, unforgettable day
But why do we love the Great North Run so much?
Here are some of the highlights as I see them. This year, I’m taking on the half marathon for Hartlepool charity Miles for Men.
*It’s a bit like waiting for Christmas: You prepare for it for months and then suddenly its here - and you’re full of excitement. Only, unlike Christmas, there’s no bearded bloke with a bunch of reindeer.
*The calm before the storm: You re-check the checklist you checked ten times the night before. And then check it again. A tad nervous.
*You’re off to Newcastle: There’s thousands walking to the start line ... And you can proudly puff your chest out and declare “yeah I’m one of you.”
*That emotional moment when the runners pay tribute to those we’ve loved and lost: A time to remember why you committed to this - to raise money for fantastic causes.
*The gun goes - for the elite runners: 40 minutes or so later, you reach the start line and you’re off.
*Thousands of screaming people are in a tunnel shouting “oggy oggy oggy”: Its a runners opera and it’s reverberating off the walls. Goosebumps time.
*You come out the tunnel to see a five-deep line of spectators urging you on. Goosebumps time 2.
*You reach the Tyne Bridge with the Red Arrows roaring overhead: Meanwhile, a roadside Geordie you’ve never met before is shouting “gan on son. Yer can dee this.”
*Gateshead - and a live band is playing in the middle of a roundabout: Only at the Great North Run.
*A woman from Heworth is handing out the sweets she’s bought for the runners: Nearby, there’s a roadside offer of beer, or a spray of water.
*The halfway point and you’re doubting yourself: But the runner next to you pats you on the back with a “howay pal you’ve got this.”
*You reach the charity bus filled with your supporters: There’s horns, claxons and a clutch of screaming people urging you on. Goosebumps time 3.
*John Reid Road and time to dig deep: So are thousands of others, including two lots of Superman, Batman and Robin, and a six foot saveloy. It’s not the GNR without the costumes.
*The doubts creep in: Can you keep going? But then it happens ... You can see the sea.
*Your tired legs drop down the steep Redwell bank to the sharp seafront turn: Just like Mo Farah did an hour or so earlier.
*The last mile and the fantastic South Shields crowds are screaming at you in encouragement: Who are you to disappoint such wonderful people.
*It’s a battle: To hold back the tears of emotion and joy as you realise you’re going to do this. You’re going to prove all of those doubters wrong.
*The last 100 metres and it’s there in front of you: The finish line. You’re spent and you can barely stand as you complete your half marathon. You’re a Great North runner.
*With your new T-shirt on and your medal round your neck: It’s time to go home.
*The next day: You can barely move. Your mouth feels like it’s living in a desert. But you’re buzzing and asking yourself “can I do it all again.”