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CLC Striders take part in the Great North run 2021

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On Sunday 12 September, Liza Bradshaw had the privilege of donning her Striders vest in the elite women’s field of the Great North Run. Her prep was, in hindsight, non-ideal, all of her own doing. Her aim was to try not to be the last elite woman home, and she hoped she could run inside 83 minutes. More than that she knew this was a once in a lifetime experience, and was determined to enjoy it.

Liza travelled up to Newcastle on Friday night and had a lot of fun on Saturday doing the mini run and admitted feeling like a fraud visiting the elite desk to pick up her bib (which had her name rather than number - another running ambition fulfilled).

One of the bonuses of going off the elite start is that you get to use the elite marquee before and after the race. This was totally surreal. It has chairs, tables, and swanky portaloos at which she queued up with Charlie Purdue, Jenny Nesbitt, Eilish McColgan and Natasha Cockram. Galen Rupp bumped into her and said sorry, Ally Dixon shared her table, and Liza just managed to avoid asking for an autograph. The runners were walked down to the start half an hour beforehand. As a lady runner, Liza is quite practiced at finding a convenient bush when the need arises. It was assumed elites didn’t have to do this, but there were no toilets at the start, so off they all went up the bank. That was probably the most surreal moment of the whole day!

The course profile (it was a new course for this year due to COVID) looked undulating and it really was. Liza hoped to find a group to run in but by two miles those at the back were strung out down the road. Liza fixed her eyes on the woman ahead of her and challenged herself with every step to keep the gap as small as possible. The support was incredible, probably the best ever experienced. By the time the runners came back over the Tyne bridge at 11 miles it was just a wall of noise, almost overwhelming. With 2 miles to go Liza caught the woman she’d been chasing for 8 miles. She knew there was someone on her tail and just tried to hold her off as she snaked upwards through the town centre.

With 600m to go the men’s timing car went past her. Uh oh. 400m and they were calling Marc Scott into the finish. Liza pushed hard but couldn’t finish before he did, but did hold off the woman behind her, and got her moment on TV as he finished.

84.15. Not the time Liza wanted but she gave it everything. 5 women on the start finished behind her, one DNFed. Liza had a fantastic weekend, loved every minute (even when it hurt) and don’t have it in her to regret anything about it. It was an honour and a privilege – and she can thoroughly recommend the GNR as an absolutely brilliant race with epic support.

Oh and one last thing: Liza is not elite. She is a superb runner who likes training and is lucky enough to run with a club and a lot of good people who make me better than she could be on her own. Today she got to fulfil a running ambition and is grateful to all of those who helped her do it.

The ever improving Nick Ledwold also took part running an impressive 89 minutes. Whilst a bit of a more undulating course than he’d anticipated, the crowd really provided a necessary boost! In the past few months he has completed the Donegal half, Cheltenham half and now the Great North run in his fastest time of the three.