What I failed to include in my entry ‘Great North Run 2008 – Great Fundraiser!’ is my sincerest thanks to Richard. Why? I will tell you a story so shocking that even Santa Claus will be revising his ‘naughty & nice’ list after reading this entry.

Once upon a time … there were three female members in our family. To keep their identities secret from Santa Claus, we will only refer to them as Anita, Angie, & Leija.

Well these three anonymous ladies were to be part of the JJ’s Supporters Club … moral support for the start, and nursing support at the end of the Great North Run! Not very unreasonable … until they found out that we would be leaving at 7:30am on Sunday morning to get to Newcastle. 7:30am on Sunday morning! Their faces went pale. That translated into having to get up at 6:00am – 6:30am to get ready on time.

Now women’s logic kicks in with the first in a series of statements. “Well is it necessary for all of us to be at the start? I mean that it will be too busy to park and watch the start, so basically we will be just dropping you off. Therefore, Richard can take you up to Newcastle at 7:30am and we will follow a bit later and see you at the finish.”

Now to calculate when JJ will cross the finish line, so they can be there to see the hero cross the line. Right … logic statement No.2 … “Run starts at 10:40am … JJ is in Zone G … so another 20 minutes for him to start … expected running time … 2 and bit hours … so around 1:15pm … ish … in South Shields. Right, lets go to the MetroCentre shopping centre in Newcastle and play it by ear.”

So the ladies finally leave at 9:30am (well that is what they told me) and go to the MetroCentre. Must have arrived around 11:30am with Anita’s driving, so a healthy amount of time before going to South Shields. In the meantime, faithful Richard is trekking over to South Shields, navigating through all the road closures for the run, amongst the other supporters of the 52,000 participants.

At around 1:00pm, the Great Run message service sends out 3 text messages that I have finished the run. One finds Richard’s phone, conveniently located in South Shields … the other two text messages manage to penetrate deep into the bowels of the MetroCentre, not quite located in South Shields.

So there are Richard and JJ in South Shields, perfectly in time to see the spectacular display of the Red Arrows. The pictures in my previous entry barely do them justice. I pity anyone who did not get to see them (hint hint … say no more).

Now we have a slight logistical issue. Getting to South Shields is now basically impossible and parking is one step further than impossible if you did not have a 4×4 vehicle. The fact that Richard parked a 30% incline demonstrated that. Logic statement No.3 is now triggered … “Since we are too late to get to South Shields and it would be mad to try, why don’t you guys wiggle out of there and meet up with us at the MetroCentre? We can wait for you here.” So it was agreed to let the ladies suffer a little longer in the shopping centre.

Getting out of South Shields was impossible. All the cars/roads were gridlocked. Only if you were armed with the following three things, there was hope:

  • A navigation system highlighting roads not suitable for cars.
  • A 4×4 vehicle.
  • Richard behind the steering wheel.

All I can say is that we saw parts of England that the locals never knew existed. At one point, a Vauxhall Corsa followed us, but we never saw it again. I can only assume the enormous muddy potholes swallowed it up.

I may have survived the run, but Richard was really the ‘Man of the Day’. Thanks Richard!!!

As the sun was setting, Anita, Angie, Leija, and JJ headed back home (Richard stayed in Newcastle in case anyone was wondering) and promptly joined the traffic jam stretching the length of England with 51,999 other runners trying to get home! By this point, I was too knackered and fell asleep, so I did not suffer the long journey home. wink

Love JJ xxx

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