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Great North Run 2015

Alex Shand was one of 57,000 people who took part in the Great North Run last Sunday! Here’s how he got on…

‘Having arrived in Newcastle in September 2014, I missed the chance to take part in last years Great North Run. I was not about to let that opportunity pass a second time and started the search for a place. Having spent a short period of time volunteering with COCO in the summer while researching effects of sport on impoverished communities, it was a natural choice to raise funds for them!

Prior to GNR 2015 my experience of competitive running was limited, consisting of a half marathon in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan in 2008, as well as a handful of park-runs with my family this year. I set an ambitious target time of 1 hour 30 minutes and quickly went to seek the advice of a friend who was happy to inform me of the amount of work that lay ahead!

My training started well, and two months of four runs per week saw my time per mile drop rapidly. Expectations that I’d meet my goal were sky high! Unfortunately, with only two weeks to go I suffered a hamstring injury and was unable to train. It looked like this was the end of the “hour thirty” dream…

Race Day


The atmosphere on the day was phenomenal and the phrase “it’s not what you know, but who you know” played a part in me starting the race next to Frank Bruno and Professor Brian Cox (I finished before both). The lost training time showed as the 8 mile point loomed and my pace slowed dramatically. Thankfully, I found a new lease of life after spotting a pantomime horse closing in behind!

The generosity of the people of the North East was evident throughout with the offer of hundreds of jelly babies, ice pops and even a cheeky beer at 10 miles. Team COCO picked the perfect place to cheer the runners on- spotting those white banners as I hit the last mile gave me a final boost and saw me cross the line in 1:43:49.

A huge thank you to the staff at COCO for letting me have the opportunity to take part in this wonderful event, and of course all those who have sponsored me along the way. I look forward to next year and hope that COCO will keep a space for me to beat my time and raise more money for a great cause!’

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