George Nicholson and Anne Wilson are among a very select group of runners who have taken part in the Great North Run every year since it began. Here they share their tips for first-time runners - including the advice you won't find in any official guide.
Before the start
- Arrive early. There is no toilet without a queue. Don't underestimate how long this will take. The shortest queue is usually at the top of the course near Grandstand Road, at the top end of the baggage bus line.
- *Soak in the atmosphere. *Even if your starting position is near the back, try to stand on the bridge near the start for the sight of the crowds along the motorway. Allow yourself to be proud that you are part of it.
- Line up on the right. Stay on the right-hand carriageway if you want to dodge the slower runners. This goes over the Central Motorway flyover - the left hand lane goes through the underpass.
- *Take it easy. *There is no need for panic at this stage. Don't push and shove to get round other people. The crowds will thin out and you can easily make up your time later.
- Think positively. View the mile-markers positively as 'just x miles to go'. You will be surprised how quickly you get to single figures.
- Prepare for a hill. The first hill in the course is at the end of the Tyne Bridge. It is only small, but it has a nasty little kick.
- Walk if you need to. Nobody minds and it gives you a chance to talk to others doing the same thing. Smile nicely at spectators who tell you to get a move on!
- Another hill! The Felling Bypass towards the Heworth roundabout feels like it goes on forever. Congratulate yourself at the top, but know that the worst is still to come.
- Don't get competitive. Don't be upset when you are overtaken by someone in fancy dress. In the early years, we were passed by eight-year-olds.
- Stride out on the downhill. Pick up the pace on a wonderful downhill section between 6.5 to 8 miles.
- *Look for Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson. *The Paralympian often joins volunteers handing out water at the nine-mile mark.
- Eat. Hundreds of spectators will offer you refreshments along the route. Ice pops are good - especially blue ones - and orange segments, but avoid the crisps and beer!
- *Expect a shower. * Kids on the roadside may be squirting people with water. If you don't want to get wet, put up a hand and say "please don't".
- *Watch out! *The Bupa 'Boost Zone' at the ten-mile mark should help you, but beware of jelly babies on the road.
- The final mile
- *Smile as you cross the line. *You have made it. You are on national TV and most of the official photographers are here. Pretend you have enjoyed it.
- *Let someone else take off your timing chip. *If you bend down to do it, you could cramp up badly.
- *Make arrangements in advance. *Don't rely on your mobile phone because the networks are busy here at this time. Plan ahead to meet your friends and family.
- *Be prepared for more queues. *In the finishing funnels, collecting your bags from the buses, queuing for the bus, Metro or ferry or sitting in traffic in your car. The best thing is to wait in South Shields for a while until it calms down. Relax and think of everything you have achieved.
About our guest authors:
Anne Wllson is one of only five women to have run the race every year, and she co-ordinates a newsletter for the other 'veterans'. She runs dressed as Minnie Mouse. This year, because of a shoulder injury, she won't carry the bucket she usually takes around the course to collect money for charity. Find her fundraising page for St Oswald's Hospice in Newcastle here.
George Nicholson is one of 107 men to have run in every Great North Run and this year is running alongside the former Spice Girl Melanie C and Team North. He is raising money for the Acorn Children's Hospice. Find his fundraising page here.
Get more tips from the official guide to the Great North Run.