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Wednesday, 8 December 2010

My Great North Run Incident 2004 (Part 3)

I finished Part 2 of this account with the decision having been made that I needed to be taken to hospital due to my inability to keep any liquid in my system.

I was put on a ward with a few other Great North Run participants who were suffering ill effects as I was. I remember the nurses telling me that the ward had been set aside specifically for dealing with Great North Run participants. Apparently all the nurses working that ward on that afternoon and into the evening were all volunteers and would not be paid for their time. Aren't some people truly amazing! I believe they said the same went for all the doctors and nurses in the tented hospital near to the finish area.

If I remember rightly, the ward consisted of two rooms, each capable of housing up to 6 patients. I think I was in a room with 2 other men and I can only assume that the other room had a similar number of patients. I do remember being told that there were others in a far worse state elsewhere on the ward.

Whilst I was on that ward I was finally able to speak to my wife, Charlotte, for the first time since the run. I think this contact was the first time that she had any confidence that I was going to be ok. Up until then, I suppose having not heard from me directly could only be seen as a bad sign.

Eventually I stopped being sick and the drip started doing its job of rehydrating me. I believe it was sometime around 9pm that I was finally released from the ward.I think I was the last to be released from the room of the ward that I had been in. We then faced the long journey home, through which I think I sleep most of the way.

I slept most of the next day too. I was in no fit state to go to work. At that stage I was about 8 years into my working life and had only taken a handful of days off sick at most. It certainly had a significant effect on me for a few days.

A day or two later I remember finding out that a couple of participants had actually died as a result of the run. I don't know whether they died on the course or at the hospital sometime later, but it certainly put things into perspective for me. Things could have ended very differently and I suppose I was one of the lucky ones even though it hadn't felt that way at the time.

From that day forward, Charlotte was very much against me ever running that kind of distance again. It even took 5 years for me to fancy a half marathon again. Finally, in 2009, I managed to persuade both Charlotte and myself that I needed to have a go at another half marathon to banish my Great North Run demons.

Our agreement was based on me doing the Coventry Half Marathon, which is almost on our doorstep. This allowed Charlotte to attend the race and I think went some way to easing her stress levels on the day.

I managed a very pleasing 1 hour 33 minutes and 37 seconds at the 2009 Coventry Half Marathon, finishing in 120th place and finally put to bed the feeling of not having properly completed a half marathon.

One day I may even consider having another go at the Great North Run itself, though to be honest, that thought still feels me with fear. But its a challenge I think I want to attempt again one day!

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