We had a major fangirl meltdown recently when we met Brendan Foster, one of big running heroes and founder of the the Great Run Series, which includes the biggest half marathon in the whole wide world. As you can see from the photo, he already had his coat and bag and was ready to leave the building, which made him even more of a hero to us for taking the time for a photo with us grinning like idiots. What a nice man.
We were in Scotland for the Great Edinburgh Winter Run and the launch of a new sponsor for the Series, SimplyHealth. We didn’t realise it as we chatted (and chatted and chatted) on the train on the way up but this is a Big Deal. Everyone has heard of the Great North Run, of course – over 1 million participants, Mo Farah winning a record three times in a row, us coming about 20000th every time we run it (OK, you’ve probably never heard that last fact before but it is emphatically not fake news).
The race itself was properly, properly lovely. As we’ve run in Edinburgh once or twice before, we knew that there was definitely one thing on the menu – HILLS. As you can see in the background, the Scottish capital did not disappoint on this front. Although as one of the Great Run team reminded us before the race – “It’s not a hill, it’s an undulation”… Hmm. We ran together the whole time, though we weren’t able to talk to each other as we usually do, at least on the way up. We caught our breath taking selfies at the top with fellow run blogger Lucy from Pedal Paddle Pace, then began the steep descent downwards. Two steady miles of downhill towards a finish line is absolutely exhilarating – every race should have it. Your feet pounding out below you, knowing you can go as fast as you like as you don’t need to leave anything in the tank, as the finish line is right there. Everybody, get redrawing your race routes, please. Even if it involves slogging up a big, erm, undulation to start off with.
The new SimplyHealth Great Run Series has loads of other races too – 5ks, a 5 miler, 10ks, half and full marathons. Plus loads of junior and mini events. There’s even a 10k Great Ethiopian Run, which we’re really hoping for an invitation to, if only for the distinction of definitely coming dead last together in a major overseas race.
Now there’s also Great Run Local, timed weekly 5k and 2k runs around the UK (carefully scheduled to not clash with parkrun – which goes to show that they really are properly cool people!) There are also GreatSwim events, which involve swimming very long distances in open water.
Most exciting of all is the brand new Great North SwimRun. This involves swimming, getting out of the water and running, getting into more water and swimming again and so on for up to 8 hours. Shorter distances are available. You wear all your gear from start to finish so you run in your swim cap and swim in your trainers. We’re guessing it will be challenging, wet and very good fun indeed. If you’re looking for a new fitness adventure, this is certainly one to check out.
We’re delighted to be involved with Great Run – if you’re looking for fitness inspiration for anyone at any age and any level, you can find it with them. Also, we met Brendan Foster. Did we mention that…? 🙂