GNR 2002 and on....

I thought I might put this suggestion to the organisers of the GNR but thought I would ask your opinions first....

Obviously people have complained about slower runners taking up prime space at the front of the starting grid, myself included. How does this sound...

At the start the grid is organised into blocks of predicted times either side of the motorway central reservation.
Could we not, for example, start all the faster times (in ascending order) on the left hand carriageway, and continue with the slower times on the right hand carriageway. That way, when the two sides meet further on, the faster runners have had, hopefully, time to get away, leaving all the slower runners behind them. This way the faster runners can get away, and the slower runners are not looking for people constantly trying to get passed them and everyone could enjoy the race even more (if that's possible !!).

What do you think...?

All the best


  • Nice idea Dean, and it might make a bit of difference but I think the fundamental problem is not enough space for 40 000+ runners over 13.1 miles, no matter where people start.

    I felt overall the organisation was pretty good, though I'm glad it's not my job!
  • I wholly agree with you Laura, but I think that if the race organisation could be improved, if only a little bit, then this would make the race better year on year.

    I know that 40k+ runners is a lot of people, takes a lot of organising and I respect every organiser in the event for making it it truly a most memorative occasion, but I would like to think that if it was possible to make it better, they could and would.

    Every respect to all the runners and organisers.

  • Totally agree with the comments Dean & Laura. I think they have drastically improved the finishing section, with only having to wait for a bag instead of getting stuck in queues for T-shirts and then medals. Also, the goody bag was excellent and even better were the red arrows, made it an all round day to remember.

    The start procedure definatley needs to be looked at. From past experiences I start in the 1hr 20 section, knowing fine well my target is to beat 2 hours (which I managed to do with a 1hr 55mins run), simply because of the slower runners up ahead, and even startin so far foward, I was still passing people who were obviously not runners at the half mile stage and they looked absolutely knackered. It s a problem that I think will never be sorted out but the organisers could go some way to improving it by splitting the motorway - beu then you are faced with the problem of - do you know for a fact that people who say they are fast runners, genuinely are, without going off previous times.

    But apart from that - cracking idea mate!
  • Cheers...I think I will mention it !!

    Here's to next year.....
  • Good idea but the problem is that the barriers are closed and if you dont want to jump over them you tend to join where ever there is a break in the fence and to be honest you tend to join the first chance you get. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the runners to ensure they stand in the correct place. It is difficult to see what the organisers can do when people so blatantly ignore the markers. I saw people in fancy dress standing at the 1 hour 5 minute marker and no, they werent dressed as Paula Radcliffe. I still maintain that GNR is an event to be enjoyed and those looking for PB's may be best advised looking elsewhere because you're never going to get a clear run in a field of 47000 no matter what the organisers do or where people start.
  • I agree with Lagerman. Dean's suggestion is a good one except that it ignores the central problem i.e. the ignorance/self-delusion of the non-runners and the knock-on effect this has for the entire group. Neil D's message illustrates this brilliantly - unless you can trust every runner to self-certify his or her likely pace accurately, any starting system will be doomed to failure. The only way you might stop this failure is to police the system, which would be unworkable and quite contrary to the spirit of mass participation. The GNR is a great day out, but PBs will never be easy to come by there.
  • but what about common sense for the fun runners?
  • I had the same problem of having to dodge camels, men with banners and runners walking even before the bridge, there was however a nice girl with coconuts on her chest, we saw her in the New Crown afterwards and gave her some money then. The GNR is a big fun race for everyone and has to stay that way, I started off saying that I wanted to do 1:40 but go stuck celebrity spotting and talking so slipped off schedule, luckily I was passed by RW pacer for the sub 1:45 group who I followed until the sea front the overtook to finish in 1:40:02 (many thanks unknown pacer)

    To get back to the main thread, no matter how many gripes we may have, we will all be back next year, the problems will still be the same and we will again have a fantastic day.

    Keep on running
  • I sooooooooooo agree with you all, as you may have seen from my update on another thread. Its a brilliant weekend - I come from the South so its not a day out! - and that's how I see it - not as an opportunity for a PB. I've definitely seen it getting more obviously crowded over the past couple of years. Previously when you got onto the dual carriageway it opened up and you could run pretty much as you wished but not now, it stays packed to the end. Must have done some extra miles hopping up and down the central reservations - maybe I'll view it as steepchase training!!
  • Just back from the North East. The GNR was my first half (first major race for that matter). I estimated 2:15 on my race entry and so I started at half way back through the 2:10 section. I spent the whole race dodging walkers but still managed to come in at 2:13:44 - with which I'm very, very happy. I must admit that in the last mile, when I was still feeling strong and had upped the pace a bit, I was getting *really* frustrated with the amount of traffic. But, hey, I guess that it's just what happens when you get 40-odd thousand people running together.

    Anyway I'm very happy, had a great day (great fish and chips on the walk to the Metro), but I don't think I'll do it again in a hurry - just too much traffic.

  • As a slow and steady runner I found it very difficult to keep a steady pace especially when I was tired at the end and had to keep changing my pace to get around walkers from mile one. 3 times I was knocked or bumped into by faster runners trying to get past me. I enjoyed the run but it was crowded and it was frustrating at times going around walkers but I feel if you want to get a PB or a good time a less crowded race would be better and slower runners, fun runners, walkers had a much right to be there as anyone else.
  • Too right, I come from the north east and have to say its great to see so many people attracted to the "Toon". The bumping and dodging people is what makes the run and its a chance to have a bit of crack with people you run along with and the camoradery (sorry for the spelling) is fantastic, people egging each other on all the way round ( a bit like the Quayside on a Saturday night except not as crowded). I even saw two blokes help another lad over the finishing line and you could tell they were all strangers. Thats what makes the GNR the day it is. Its a special race and I hope to god they dont change it too much.

    Well done to all involved in the GNR, organisers, runners and sponsors - you make it the day it is. See ya there next year.
  • This sounds like the London Marathon after thread and the GSR after thread. Runners' starting too far forward is obviosly a problem for these huge field races. I do think it's about time the organisers did TRY something different to see if it works. It just a shame that what is obviously a great day out for most is spoiled by this one factor.

    I can appreciate that no matter what pace you run/walk at everyone will have a target for their race. I don't know what the answer is, but it would be a shame for people to not want to do these events because of this. I know people, myself included who would rather do smaller races because of tripping over slower runners and not being able to get into a decent pace. I'm sure there are runners slower than me who still trip over slower runners and it goes on.

    Maybe having a start where you have to have proof like at London might help, I don't know!
  • GNR great race but surely it should enter the 21st century- timing chips as used at all major events. it would be nice for everyone to obtain their correct time.also it's about time numbers could be deferred when not competing due to injury. £22 is alot to loose.
  • I agree that some people may have to stop well into the race but to start passing walkers after the 1st mile as i did is really having the mick taken. this was my 1st half marathon & i started in the 10 min per mile section which meant i did not actually pass the start line until 19 mins later & if everybody did the same & set reasonable targets then there would be less bumping & barging going on. At one point in the race we were running up a narrow slip road & i had 5 people walking abreast, there was just no where to go & i had to slow down to a near stop, if walkers had the decency to move to one side there would not be half the problems..
  • I had a fantastic time... new PB and all!!!

    Flew back from Newcastle today and to top it all saw the Red Arrows take off from there this morning, must have stayed up there over night.
  • I think the one thing that comes through LOUD & CLEAR is that everyone enjoy's the GNR as much as the next person and it truly is a very unique and memorable race that everyone will run time and time again.

    However, the point of my message was merely just to simply suggest a way that we might make it even better than it already is. If it upsets people, or puts them off coming to the GNR then it is not a good idea and should be scrapped.

    For me, the GNR is THE race and no matter what, I will still be there year on year.

    Congrats to everyone who finished and every respect to the organisers for yet another tremendous effort.

    All the best

    P.S. A lot of races could do to take a leaf out of the GNR's book !!
  • Agreed, Dean - if we didn't love it so much we wouldn't bother to complain! While any solution is bound to be flawed, your suggestion of yesterday, or any other scheme should be put to the organisers to let them understand the frustrations of the runners and turn their atention to this problem.
  • i loved the whole great north run occasion,but i know what you all mean about time bands etc.
    i think its obvious why some of the costumed fun runners go near the front..
    so as to be on television..!!
    it is a problem at the start,and even more so when "runners" are walking after only a mile.
    i dont deny that they are raising money for charities etc,and well done to them too,but club runners should have the opportunity to perhaps run PB's by having a reasonably free run through the field.
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    Ive done London (5 times) GSR and GNR.
    GSR is less crowded and starting isn't really a big problem.FLM get round it by having pens with estimated time on it and each runner has a number to represent which pen they should be in. Sure some do jump the barriers but this helps to reduce that effect and FLM also has championchip.

    GNR remains the only race I'll never do again and never recommend.You will always have slower runners starting at the front, it was made worse in the year I did it when those who had run 5 or more started behind the elite (irrespective of time).The fact that half the M-way was closed for repairs added to the woes. Add to that the inefficient orgaisation of baggage buses, buses at the finish,collection of goodies post race and uninspiring course ....

    However it is a matter of opinion, GNR is an event rather than a race, and well done to all those who ran it .
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    Oh yeah and FLM also has three starts
  • Well Dustin, I would say that you are probably the only one who thought the organisation was inefficient. I personally thought they did a tremendous job and like many others I WILL be returning next year !

    I am interested to know what the inefficiencies, specifically, were though ?

    I personally would say the GSR is uninspiring as it is flat, 3.1 miles shorter than the GNR and only has a fifth of the participation.

    As you say, it is a matter of opinion....but I would suggest an opinion that can be justified is more highly regarded.


  • You cant compare FLM with GNR. The GNR is more of a family reunion. Anybody who ever runs feels they can do a half-marathon (and I'll bet most women start with the equally excellent yet crowded Race fo Life) and if you think that, sooner or later, you will fetch up at GNR. Not every runner feels he/she can do a marathon so the FLM is split between serious runners and fancy dress/celebrity runners. It is the addition of the "weekend warriors" that gives the GNR its special atmosphere. Enjoy it! If you want a PB get to Brid this weekend or Brass Monkey in York in January. I did one of my slowest times for a half-marathon but I cant remember a more enjoyable race (how friendly are the people!!) and I'll be back for a few years to come. To get back to my original point though, GNR, GSR, FLM, they're all great races. All different races. Dont waste time trying to say one is better than the other.
  • I did the GNR for the first time, also first 1/2 marathon. I absolutely loved it and have pre-registered for next year. I did it at 10 min/mile pace, and lined up at the start on that marker. I finished in 2.13 so am very happy, but am sure it would have been quicker if it hadn't been so busy. I am sure more experience and quicker runners found it frustrating having to dodge us plodders and those mad people with inflatable dinghys, but for me, that was all part of the fun. I've only done it once, but I agree with the folks saying that GNR is not the time for PBs. I reckon its about the taking part, meeting loads of brilliant people and soaking up the fantastic atmosphere. I travelled up from London and made a long weekend of it, saw the milers on Saturday, ran on Sunday, did boozy lunch on Monday with fellow runners. I had a brillant weekend. The organisers did a brilliant job given there was so many of us. Can't wait for next year.
  • DustinDustin ✭✭✭
    Dean ,
    I thought in my comment I indicated several inefficiencies regarding starting positions, baggage buses , buses at the finish , starting positions of 5x GNRers, unco-ordinated collection of T-shirts,water,and so on at the finish.
    I could go into detail but I think if you care to read other threads on this topic that I'm probably not the only one who thinks that organisation is lacking.

    I'm happy to elaborate so I belive that my opinion can be justified. Furthermore I never said the GSR was great - however it does have two distinct advantages : no material problems crossing the start (which was my comment in answer to the previous thread), and a course where it is possible to run a pb.

  • I did the Disney Half in Florida in January and the way they do it is on you number is a letter of the alphabet which coincided with the time you stated on your entry form. e.g. Corral K. You then were only allowed in the area that corresponded with your 'corral' letter. You could go further back but not forward. Fair enough there were only 15 000 for the full marathon and 6000 for the half but it worked.

    Might be an idea for the organisers to think of. The do put a lot of effort into it and this could work.

    We put down a time of 2 1/2 and only took three minutes to get over the start line.
  • Dustin
    I can only assume that it wasn't this year you did the GNR because the t-shirts, etc. were all in one bag - just like this year's GSR. There was also plenty of water both at the finish and all the stations along the way. The GSR also has just as bad traffic problems as the GNR as anyone who did it last year and vainly hoped they had improved things this year, will bear witness.
  • This was my first GNR having completed 6 half marathons before and whilst i agree that the start of the race was slightly chaotic, i wouldn't of changed anything.. The GNR is an experience, i knew i was not on for a PB (In fact i finished 9 minutes outside my PB) but the whole atmosphere was awesome.. I do agree that the organisers should use the champion chip though...
  • I have never done GNR, and to be honest it doesn't really appeal, however I would like to make a suggestion; that there be a slightly later start, say 10 or 15 minutes for the fancy dress wearers and walkers, which would give the runners a chance to get a little way down the road. I accept though that it still requires the walkers to be honest about their aspirations.
  • I was appalled to see people in costumes with the orange 'sub 1:40' numbers on - Surely they knew that they are lying on the application forms!
    But a fantastic experience. I still have the last of a very bad cold and stumbled across the line in 2hrs 52 mins. I was aiming for 2:15 but hey-ho.
    Next year will be sub 2hrs!
Sign In or Register to comment.