Inspirational stories on 13-mile adventure

NOT content with running a half marathon, one keen fundraiser decided to get up early and run the course from South Shields first.

NOT content with running a half marathon, one keen fundraiser decided to get up early and run the course from South Shields first.

Graham Fletcher left the finish line at 7.30am as he headed for the Newcastle starting gate in a marathon challenge.

Graham, of Newcastle-under-Lyme, in Staffordshire, did his first half marathon in one hour 45 minutes, before meeting up with his wife Julie to take on the official 13.1 mile run.

He said: "I decided to double it up and make it a marathon, just for a bit more a challenge.

"I’ve done the London Marathon before, so I am reasonably trained for it."

Graham, 53, was running for Douglas Macmillan Hospice, in Staffordshire.

Also raising money for charity yesterday was dyspraxia sufferer Frank Lyford, from Alnwick in Northumberland, who has recently returned from volunteering with disadvantaged youngsters in Ghana, Africa.

Yesterday he was running for Christian Aid, and was also using the Great North Run as a personal challenge to show the world that his disability is not a barrier.

He said: "I have lost count of the amount of times that employers have turned me away from interviews because they think I am not suitable for a job. They don’t give me a chance.

"My dyspraxia makes certain situations difficult.

But I hope to show by running this race that I and others who have similar disabilities can be a success.

"I am planning on applying for London, Paris and New York after this so I can raise as much money as possible."

Ian Thompson, 47, from Middlesbrough who was paralysed 20 years ago when a truck collided with his push bike, did the race in his wheelchair.

The sport science coach said: "This is my 17th race since the accident, and this is only the second time it has rained.

"Last year I was selected for the elite field of wheelchair racers. I haven’t been elite anything for a number of years so I was very pleased about that."

An Army troop marched to the starting grid yesterday to continue an annual tradition at the Great North Run.

The seven-strong squadron of mechanical engineers were raising money for cancer research.

Among them was Darren Molyneux, 25, of County Durham, who said: "We’re happy to run in the slowest time as it will give us more chance to collect money."

Meanwhile, blue was the colour for two brothers who were running for their father.

Simon and Rob Cutler decided to take on the challenge for the second time in aid of Parkinson’s UK – and this time they came dressed as smurfs.

The brothers ran for their father Gordon, 72, who has been suffering with Parkinson’s disease for the past 15 years.


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer