As tens of thousands of runners took part in a revised Great North Run course on Sunday, September 12, one dad from East Boldon decided he would run the ‘original’ route which finishes in South Shields.
John Shaw, 44, started the half marathon in Newcastle like everyone else but took the iconic path to South Tyneside in honour of his dad, Bob Shaw, who was a keen runner and passed away in January last year.
The further education worker, who was greeted at the end by his children, Robyn, 13 and William, 11, had initially decided that he would do the ‘original’ route in protest at the decision to change it but it then took on a deeper meaning.
He said: “The Great North Run has always finished in Shields as it is supposed to be for the North and the event is great for South Tyneside.
“We lost my dad in January last year and he was the treasurer of South Shields Harriers so he was always involved in the planning of the Great North Run for the South Tyneside part so I also wanted to do it for him.
"You put in all that training and effort to run the race and for no one to be there isn’t great, the crowd always lift you and everyone always says that once you hit South Tyneside, the atmosphere changes and the energy ramps up.
"My family tried to keep it as normal as possible, they met me at the end and my mother-in-law was standing at The Nook where she always does to support me.”
John, who was running the Great North Run for the seventh time, says that he can understand the decision but wants “absolute reassurances” from the organisers that the event will return to South Tyneside next year.
He added: “I can understand why they’ve changed it for Covid reasons but the entire event is all outdoors, you’re all crowded together at the start despite staggered times and the Metros were all packed.
"I get why they’ve done it but it doesn’t make much sense and the effects on all the local businesses in South Tyneside will have been massive.
John was also running the Great North Run on behalf of South Shields Football Club Foundation, who he managed to raise £500 for and that money will go towards bringing children together and supporting them with football.