Tensions in Tyneside were palpably rising, along with the temperatures, in the week building up to the 42nd Great North Run. A surprise sunny start to September sent the mercury spiralling upwards but did not deter the 82 JJs (our largest ever amount of member entries) from striding proudly onto the baked tarmac of the central motorway to stare down at the starting line with our infamous enthusiasm and determination. The almighty presence of the JJs was not only felt in the starting pens, but all across the event with various members volunteering in the water provisions and also the medical tent! Sophie Reynolds was also setting the pace for the 1hr 55mins runners; ready to display the very best of her consistent training! Not all pacers had prepared so diligently with one of them forgetting their running shoes, but not from the JJs who are always prepared. it was Floor Christie who saved the day by donating a spare pair of running shoes just in time.


As the runners lined up, ready to smash this iconic run #oneMotime, the colours in the starting pens from all the different running clubs and charities from across the world were an absolute sight to behold. From far and wide, for every reason imaginable, people had descended into our small city to share in the biggest experience that is the Great North Run. Many of the JJs were running in club colours, but an equal amount opting for the vests of charities close to their hearts after collectively raising thousands of pounds; all worn with great pride and purpose.


Spirits remained high on the initial downhill section after Eddie Howe started the race. The rapturous cheers of the crowd boosting the energy levels, and the classic echoing chants of “Oggy Oggy Oggy, Oi Oi, Oi” through the motorway flyovers uniting and entwining the JJs in and amongst the other 60,000 runners! From the safety of shade, it was out into the relentless sunshine ready for the crossing of the North Easts most iconic structure. Supporting JJs lined the pavements beneath the green arches, audible amongst the deafening swathes of onlookers, sending the runners into Gateshead and beyond with an immeasurable sense of pride and focus. The Red arrows soared overhead, painting their trademark Red, White and Blue smoke in the clear blue skies over The Tyne.


Into Gateshead the reality of the conditions started to set in for many, with the heat of the day becoming apparent after the first uphill onto the Felling bypass. However, in true Geordie style the noise lined dual carriageway never faltered in delivering the warmest, friendliest and world-renowned Northeast welcome. Ice pops, oranges, peaches, jelly babies, pints of beer and (more race appropriate)– water, were handed out on mass. The ingenuity of the residents of South Tyneside, repurposing garden hoses and pressure washers into makeshift mist showers certainly was welcome relief to the sweltering JJs. Even the odd water pistol fired directly to the face was an unusually pleasant experience! Very sensibly, many members recognised that the day did not lend itself to PBs and pace pushing, but more to absorbing in as much of the incredible atmosphere as possible and making the goal to just cross the finish line.


As the dual carriageway meandered on towards Jarrow the sun seemed to beat down ever more, but the heartbeat of the Northeast was beating stronger! The music played louder, the support grew in size, every roundabout bursting with colour and sound more vibrant than the last. The streets lined with hands stretched out for a high five and a morale boost; much needed in the build up towards the insidious incline towards mile 11! JJs showed their true spirit in stopping to help a runner in need for over 30 minutes until paramedics could arrive, a fantastic display of sportsmanship and community. Well done to Becky, Beth and Ben for making sure that the person was ok helping till the paramedics arrived.


As the route reached its final stages, the mental model of “it must be downhill to the seaside” will have struck many as not playing out true, as the route climbs ever more into the outskirts of South Shields. It’s around here where Joe Kirtley opted not to adopt the Paula Radcliffe ‘excrete on the streets’ method and instead made a fateful portaloo stop that would cost him the JJs title. Finally, the tantalising, refreshing, salty seabreeze greeted the runners on the descent to the South Shields shoreline; many weary tired legs and knees not prepared for the steep downhill. A sharp left turn points you to the finish line, supposedly waiting just one mile away. Emotion and relief overwhelm you at this point as the markers count down the final 800m. Nothing can prepare you for drowning and deafening decibel levels on this home straight, as with each stride you realise what has just been achieved, against all odds.


The finish line showcased some incredible moments this year, with Kate Winstanley claiming a PB and beating her Sub 2hr target, Calvin Marsland flying across the line, taking advantage of Joe Kirtley’s earlier toilet troubles, with the JJs fastest time of the day and also a PB in 1:28:05, and Jake Archer unexpectedly crossing the line on four wheels rather than two legs, making for the most legendary photo in JJs history and one for the hall of fame. (He has thankfully made a very speedy recovery but has decided not to purchase the photo!) 2023 saw several people complete their first Great North Run including Sophie Blair, Hannah Wilson and Michael Crowe. I’m sure the infectious energy and atmosphere already has you raring to go again for next year! Every finish and attempt was celebrated beneath the brilliant Red Arrows display, after the most challenging Great North Run to date, as conditions truly were out of character for the Northeast. The deluge later in the day also making the journey home just as difficult as the journey out to the coast!


One thing that wasn’t out of character was the spirit of NorthEast. The Great North Run is the world’s largest half marathon, and for one day the world is given a snapshot and insight into what makes this corner of the UK so special: it’s people. The cheers and support of the crowds lining the street for the entire 13 miles, the sheer determination and perseverance shown by 60,0000 runners in challenging conditions, and the generosity, kindness and empathy shown by volunteers and complete strangers to one another, all make this event truly world class.


The weather on the day is perhaps the perfect metaphor for how the Great North Run 2023 should be remembered; The sunshine optimism from the start may have been washed away in the deluge, but once the clouds clear, and you have time to reflect; no matter what happened, against all the odds, you were a part of something bigger, part of something that people travel across the world to experience. A true display of Geordie pride. An event rather than a race. You’re left with that ever-growing sense of pride that the spectacle of the world’s largest half marathon, quite literally on your doorstep, truly does put on the greatest show on earth, and as a JJ you are at the beating heart of this endearing, infectious, loveable, warm, inviting, undeniably Canny City that we all have the pleasure and privilege to call home.

Calvin Marsland

Runner Pos Time
Calvin Marsland 605 01:28:05
Joe Kirtley 615 01:28:12
Ben McMain 667 01:28:43
Jake Archer 716 01:29:08
Joel Birks 745 01:29:25
Joe Inns 891 01:30:53
Richard Carter 951 01:31:30
Sam Prior 1345 01:34:52
Cliff Veitch 1400 01:35:11
Emilio Vazquez 1428 01:35:25
Ben Talks 1449 01:35:33
Hannah B Wilson 1525 01:36:08
Jack White 1585 01:36:29
Tom Dowling 1836 01:37:57
Mark Adamson 2132 01:39:24
Stuart Harper 2229 01:39:53
Niran Patel 2370 01:40:30
Phill Carr 2694 01:51:55
Rosie Glossop 2836 01:42:44
Myles Mundill 2878 01:42:57
Matthew Haynes 2971 01:43:20
Chris Wheelhouse 2992 01:43:25
Ryan Harland 3098 01:43:42
Jane Pugh 3328 01:44:28
Isabella Sharrock 3565 01:45:14
Sabrina Kapur 3748 01:45:57
Simon Wells 3756 01:45:57
Hannah Wilson 3760 01:45:59
Floor Christie-de Jong 3882 01:46:22
Helen Doherty 3948 01:46:33
David Gaskin 4387 01:47:51
Fiona Wallace 4982 01:49:25
Jo Kilner 5245 01:50:08
Simon Baker 5827 01:51:35
Lauren Dhugga 5999 01:51:59
Kate Black 6012 01:52:00
Emily Lagadec 6133 01:52:20
Amy Curtis 6389 01:52:58
Sophie Reynolds 6436 01:53:05
Matthew Down 6832 01:54:02
Catherine Johnson 7405 01:55:13
Elizabeth Heard 7564 01:55:30
Lizzie Warnes 8193 01:56:50
Emma Curtis 8443 01:57:23
Sophie Blair 8497 01:57:29
Sacha Butterworth 8773 01:58:01
Kate Winstanley 8946 01:58:19
Ellie Nicklin 9103 01:58:35
Ryan Mills 9116 01:58:36
Anthony Harland 10075 02:00:16
Charlotte Hepples 10645 02:01:22
Charlotte Hepples 10645 02:01:22
Amanda Gray 10939 02:01:58
Kari Best 11746 02:03:31
Guy Smith 12021 02:07:37
Will Banks 12046 02:04:09
Kenny Farley 12171 02:04:21
Martyn Collins 13478 02:06:43
Sally Moore 13636 02:07:01
Abby Smith 13738 02:07:10
Guy Smith 13987 02:07:37
Storm Smith 14943 02:09:15
Stephen Drummond 15133 02:09:33
Daniel Flint 15206 02:09:40
Victoria Thompson 15214 02:09:41
Rachel Dee 17283 02:13:17
Penny Hunter 17753 02:14:01
Ben Morgan 17878 02:14:13
Rebecca Price 17880 02:14:13
Rob Dooley 18630 02:15:28
Charlotte Hicks 18775 02:15:41
Beth Deutsch 18889 02:15:54
David Newman 21778 02:20:39
Sarah Hay 21834 02:20:44
Isobel Chen 23568 02:23:41
Laura Keast 23656 02:23:50
Meena Parameswaran 23930 02:24:17
Michael Crowe 24521 02:25:15
Amy Barlow 25352 02:26:41
Hannah Marshall 25436 02:26:50
Carl Johnson 28955 02:33:34
Emma Hicks 32635 02:42:16
Liam Blatch 33639 02:44:53
Ian Mcdonald 43543 04:31:36