News News Great North Run sign-up countdown Pavement pounders have got until noon on Monday February 4th to enter the ballot to bag their place in 2019’s Simply Health Great North Run. Last year our plucky team of dedicated runners raised a fantastic £9,157 for Children North East by completing the 13.1 mile half marathon course from Newcastle city centre out to the South Shields coast. If you’re feeling inspired to set yourself a fitness goal for 2019 and help improve the lives of children and young people in the North East at the same time, then don’t dilly dally and get your name into the ballot! If you don’t manage to get a place that way don’t panic! We’ve got 25 Children North East places for this year’s run, and would LOVE to hear from you if you’d like to be one of our official runners and have our support on your running mission. Run for Children North East! Mark Llamas, whose sister-in-law Liz works for Children North East Young People’s Service, was one of our brilliant runners last year and raised an impressive £1315 for us. But interestingly he also ran it way back in 1982! We caught up with Mark this month and asked him what it was like then and now… Tell us about your experiences running 36 years ago. In some ways it seems like yesterday but the memory has also faded a little. I think it wasthe second ever Great North Run and the first I could run based on the minimum age limit at the time. The race included some celebrities of the day including Kevin Keegan and was a much smaller event. For me personally, I recall enjoying the run (fitness helps) and getting round in a reasonable time but the most vivid memory is the support and encouragement of the spectators. Are you an experienced runner? Whilst I could probably be classed as an experienced cyclist, I have never been an experienced runner. In 1982 I was a very active football player and hence could get around the course. This time I was carrying the baggage of serious football and rugby related injuries (major operations to knee and hip), the burden of middle-age plus the unfortunate excess baggage of over-eating over the years. How much training did you have to do? I started training some 6 months ahead of the race so effectively a Couch to Great North Run exercise. The body didn't like the short sharp shock so picked up lots of niggling injuries along the way and entered the race standing at the start with a bad calf strain. What’s it like on the day? Despite the trepidation and doubts about fitness pre-race and the realisation mid-race thatthose fears were justified, the main thing you notice is the charitable effort and the huge number of charities which benefit from the day plus the incredible support of the crowd. How did it compare to doing it all those years ago? Some things were the same including my running partner and best friend Jonathan Wanless being there both times (this year I was joined by my eldest son Zach and nephew Robson). The main change is the appliance of science to the task with mobile phone Apps such as Strava, GPS watches and fancy running shoes etc. 1982 pre dated mobile phones, it was impossible to get GPS in to a watch or phone and running shoes have also come a long way. What’s the best thing about doing the Great North Run? The best thing is the organisation, the charitable effort and the friendly and encouragingcrowd. Would you do it again?! I would love to do it next year and hope Children North East can find me a place. I hope to arrive better prepared and without injury but potentially my other children Kaitlin and Jacob at the start line as well as Jonathan, Zach and Robson. Plus I have a new GPS watch so how difficult can it be! Feeling fired up by Mark's Story? Click below to put yourself forward... Run for us! Last year’s video highlights Great North Run Training Plan Already raring to go? Visit the Great Run website for some helpful half marathon training plans, whatever your level of fitness.