Great North Run 2024

Follow Mark as he prepares for one of the biggest challenges of his life
Taking on the world’s largest half marathon

The Great North Run
Newcastle to South Shields, UK
8th September 2024

Let me introduce myself – I am Mark, a 56-year-old (55 when I started this back in July 2023) IT guy who hadn’t exercised properly since I left school in 1986. Nearly 40 years on, I am now training for one of the biggest challenges of my life, to take on the Great North Run on 8th September 2024.

It all began on Thursday 20th July 2023. I knew I needed to lose weight and make some lifestyle changes so I asked a good friend, Chief Officer Ken (later to become Coach Ken), for some advice and support.

The following day I started on a new diet. Protein shakes and healthy food. Little did I know then, that this was not just a regular diet. Within a week it became clear this was the beginning of an entirely new lifestyle. New long-term goals were set. Fitness books were read. Barriers broken down. Determination at an all time high. Thirty one days in and I had lost my first stone (6.35kg) in weight.

By August it was then time to turn up the heat and the suggestion of joining a gym was raised. After some initial resistance – I had never stepped foot inside a gym, the idea was terrifying – and the words from Ken “just get over it”, I took a deep breath and signed up to my local JD Gym, Cleveleys, on 5th September. I’m now working through a programme with the help of Ken and my personal trainer Matty Schmid.

It was later in August that the idea of taking part in the Great North Run was raised – yet another goal to add to my growing list! I signed up to run for Bowel Cancer UK and received confirmation of my place on #TeamBowelCancer on 8th September 2023. Then on 29th September a package popped through my letter box – my official running vest!

The original plan was that Ken would run alongside me, having taken part in the Great North Run previously, although that may now not be possible. Support will not be in short supply, however, as a few members of JaguarForum are planning to be along the final mile at South Shields to cheer me on. Also, Matty the PT has said he’ll also run with me!

Throughout this journey, one phrase has been drummed into me… “Can’t is Won’t”. It serves me well. “Can’t” is not an excuse. When I’m struggling to complete reps and Matty the PT says “If you can’t do 15, just do 10” I am instantly triggered. My brain goes “Can’t is won’t” and I push through and complete the 15 reps. Yep, I have been brainwashed.

Ken has been instrumental in guiding me – from afar – from the very start, but another key member of the team is Matty Schmid – my personal trainer. Joining JD Gyms Thornton-Cleveleys in September 2023 was a daunting prospect but it was made easier by the friendly welcome of deputy manager Brandon when I went to sign up. The following day I met up with Matty and he’s been training me ever since. His expertise, support and patience made joining the Gym one of the best decisions I have ever made.

On 20th January 2024 – just six months since starting this journey – I reflected on how it started, the support I have had along the way, how far I have come and being on the cusp of losing five stone in six months. Coach Ken summed it up perfectly…

I booked a holiday in March 2024 in Antalya, Turkey to coincide with roughly where I thought I’d reach my 40kg weight loss target. Weigh-in before flying out on 20th March had me about 0.5kg (1lb) away from my goal. But on my return – 8 months and 8 days since starting this journey – I hit my target weight of 70kg (11st) with a total weight loss of 40kg (6st 4lb) since 21st July 2023.

I owe so much to a chance meeting that introduced me to Ken back in March 2023. The journey I have been on since July 2023 is a direct result of the friendship that followed.

This is life-changing! This is my story!

Please support Bowel Cancer UK via my JustGiving page, as I prepare and train for the Great North Run 2024


My Road to South Shields, via Newcastle.

It is also a “work in progress” much like myself, so please bear with me whilst I get everything sorted and updated!

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