Eleven weary runners from the Gainsborough and Morton Striders club made their way back from South Shields at the weekend, safe in the knowledge that, one day, they will be able to tell their grandchildren that they had raced against the mighty Sir Mo Farah.
They might omit to mention that they were only ever close to Farah BEFORE the Great North Run started!
The closest any of the Striders contingent got to the Olympic champion was James Croft, who produced an astounding performance, completing the half-marathon in 81 minutes, 44 seconds, which smashed his previouis personal best (PB) by two minutes.
This placed him 122nd of more than 43,500 finishers and elevated him to seventh place in the list of the fastest half-marathon times by a Strider this century. Indeed, he might have been even quicker had he not stopped for a comfort break.
Not far behind, Wayne Greenfield recorded his 13th successive sub 90-minute time, crossing the line in 85.53 to claim 261st spot. Simon Hunt was the other Strider to finish in under 100 minutes, clocking 96.40 in what he describes as his favourite race.
David Garner was the other Strider to record a PB, of sorts. He was a founder of the club back in the 1980s when he regularly recorded times well under 100 minutes. After a 30-year absence, he has returned to race running, and he is getting quicker and quicker. Garner timed at 128.34 on Sunday, ten minutes faster than in 2017 for a 21st century PB.
Lady Striders were present in numbers at the Great North Run too. Sam Garrison (2.31) finished ahead of Ruth Marples (2.41) and Gemma Burrows (3.26), while Maureen Allen’s time of 2.43 gave her seventh place in the over-70 veterans’ age group.
Three runners made their Striders debuts. Giusi Perseu finished in 2.08, while Lee Parsons clocked 2.29 and Danny Elliott, a Couch-to-5k graduate, stepped up to the half-marathon mark by finishing in 3.11, which was highly commendable given that he was battling cramp for much of the last five miles.