First the stats:
There were over 54,000 runners for the 13.1 mile (21 km) course and we finished, hand in hand, on two hours 30 minutes and one second.
Marie was placed 28,156th and I was 28,162nd (given in alphabetical order I suspect as there were plenty of others with that same time).
I was the 18,723rd male home (from an estimated 30,000); Marie the 9,438th woman, (from an estimated 24,000).
By age group, I was 133rd in the 65-69 section, Marie was 12,857th in the 0-34s.
Sunday had dawned bright and cool, perfect for running and after a suitable breakfast we walked the 15 minutes from our hotel to the race start on the dual carriageway skirting
Fantastic buzz all around and huge anticipation as the race gun sounded for the 1040 start, led off by the elite athletes who covered the course in less than an hour.
Such is the throng it was 40 minutes before we crossed the start line at 1120 but we made good progress in the early stages as the runners swept over the Tyne Bridge on towards the coast.
We spent much of the time chatting and the first few miles seemed to speed by, encouraged by the crowd — and Jean.
After watching the start she raced round on the Metro Transport system to cheer us on at Heworth, a third of the way in, giving us a big morale boost.
The first five kms were covered in 34 minutes which would have put us in for a finish time of around 2 hrs 20 mins so we slipped a little later on with some short tactical walking ahead of a couple of uphills.
Soon after Heworth, suddenly and without having taken too much out of ourselves, we saw the road sign saying South Shields was “only” six miles away and that was confirmed soon after by a race marker indicating we had done seven miles.
Past halfway then and with no alarms. Only a couple of short, sharp showers interrupted our smooth progress into South Shields where we were much cheered just over a mile out by a
glimpse of the sea.
Running down to the seafront we knew we had cracked it and although there was still a slight uphill along part of the finishing straight it was now just a question of whether we could beat the 2 hrs 30 mins mark.
Turning into the finishing spur with 50 metres to go we thought we had a chance but we were just a second out.
However, with all the overtaking we had done, losing time when ducking and weaving through other runners, we reckon we lost at least five minutes so in my dreams I am saying 2 hrs 25
Jean was there to see us race towards the finish having re-boarded the Metro at Heworth and sped round to South Shields and the race finish. Emotional scenes as we re-united.
A great, great day and no after-effects apart from a bit of threatened cramping from me but totally recovered as I write. Marie bravely shrugged off back and joints issues.
Wonderful nostalgia of course as we returned so close to where she and her brother Chris spent their early years in nearby Whitburn and great bonding once more with my lovely, lovely daughter.
Same again next year?
And of course, with such superb backing from so many friends and family, we raised over 1,000 pounds for Aquinoe. That’s the result that counts most.
So many, many thanks to one and all.