THERE was a sense of Olympic magic in the air as thousands of runners took to the track in a stadium finish to one of the region’s largest races.
Some 2,000 fun-runners joined the 3,000 club and elite racers in Gateshead at the weekend for what is the final major organised distance event before London 2012 gets under way this Friday.Related content
Supporters packed into the International Stadium to cheer on their friends and family who got to end the scenic 10k event on the running track, with plenty of sprint finishes in front of the grandstand.
Husband and wife team Debbie and David Brien from Washington saw the run as a way of marking their wedding anniversary, running the route in bride and groom outfits.
Debbie, 32, said: “This was the first time we’d entered at Gateshead and it seemed like a good way to celebrate six years.
“We both took up running together two years ago and loved it. We did the Sunderland 10k and have just kept going from there. There was a great atmosphere on the day.”
As the throng of runners anxiously waited for the off, the rain threatened.
But when the first wave of runners entered the stadium for the final 600m, the sun had broken through.
Winning the popular event was Team GB marathon runner and last year’s first place Scott Overall with Gemma Steel, who’s chalked up victories in the Great Birmingham Run and the Great Ireland Run, winning the women’s race.
Joining the club runners were thousands of fun-runners raising money for a host of charities with Mini Mouse making an appearance. The stadium also played host to 200 Gurkha recruits, who travelled up from North Yorkshire as part of their training programme to join the Brigade of Gurkhas.
Sean Green, 18, from North Shields, dyed his beard green as he completed the race in 47 minutes in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
He said: “I was running in memory of my friend Mark Harrison who died last year from cancer. I’ve set myself the challenge of completing every Bupa run in England and Scotland in a year. I don’t run for a club, I just go it alone, but the atmosphere was brilliant. I loved doing the race.”
Jennifer Lapping, 36, from Stocksfield, Northumberland, was running with Sara Barber, 39, as part of Jog on the Tyne group.
Jennifer set up the business a year ago for people new to the sport. She said: “We had 15 beginners taking part in the race and thought we’d come along and support them. I really enjoyed the day and got a time of 45.37.”
David Hart, communications director of race organisers Nova International, branded the event a success, adding: “It’s been a fantastic day, and it was great to see Olympians and 200 Gurkha soldiers running alongside thousands of participants in the North East’s biggest 10k running event.
“Over half of the participants go on to take part in the Bupa Great North Run, so we hope that today served as a great warm-up for September.”