‘Two little Ducks’, 22

In September of 2015 I completed the Great North Run. Well staggered to the end is probably a fairer approximation. It had been a bit of a struggle that time around and not a particularly good time for me.
To be frank, I have been getting slower every year since my personal best times back in the late 1990s. Looking back at those times in comparison to what I am posting now it seems like someone else was responsible for them as I have trouble believing I ever went that (relatively) quickly.
So anyway, on the back of how hard it was and a few other associated things – travel chaos in Newcastle for the first time in ages seemed to be an omen – I swore that was it, and that next time I would just watch on the TV. Not give up running of course, I need to keep me sane and alive – but half marathons and in particular the Great North Run – which I have ran every year since 1995. I thought that was enough. I even thought I could overcome the fact that I had said the same thing the year before and broken my promise to myself a few months later when I had the automatic entry opportunity shoved under my nose. I should have known I would weaken once more.
The way the GNR works in terms of getting a place is like the London Marathon, i.e. by ballot. However, you can buy membership which then gives you automatically a place for three years (once you have paid the normal entry fee on top – you have to pay a reasonable wodge of cash for the pleasure of exhausting yourself on Tyneside). I have renewed membership a few times in the past, and last year was two of three. You can see where this is going. So I still had the place for 2016. I did not have to take it and pay this year’s fee. I could have had a relaxing weekend in September watching everyone else ‘enjoying’ the day. In fact, I reasoned, I was depriving someone else of a place, who perhaps had never had the opportunity (this is in fact true).
The email came round asking if I was going to take up the place, and I watched the deadline for that decision approach. Why should I want to do something I have done 21 times before, knowing perfectly well it will hurt and that I would most likely be even slower than last year?
Damn it, people started talking about charity and it needled into the brain over a few days. People started to laugh again when I suggest silly fancy dress and started to suggest things, and inevitably my resolve started to slide. So, I reasoned, if I was going to take up the place and was not in all honesty going to be going flat out for a race best time (no one, apart from the elite athletes, should ever try for a PB in the Great North Run – the course is surprisingly mostly uphill and there are far too many people to get in the way) then I would have to bother everyone again for money and do some fundraising.
So I entered. Now I have a bull costume that needs a few alterations from the Lovely Wife (who once more will be taking up her sterling work as personal baggage train) and the inevitable and embarrassing exercise of trying to get friends and family to part with their well-earned cash has begun. I’m running for The Peoples Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) and will explain why. Be Warned. And please visit