BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

13 November 2014

BBC Homepage

Local BBC Sites

Neighbouring Sites

Related BBC Sites

Contact Us

Great North Run - your stories

You are in: Tyne > Great North Run > Great North Run - your stories > Running for Karen

Sandy Norrie in his running vest

Sandy is enjoying the training

Running for Karen

Sandy Norrie decided to take part in the Great North Run after his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.

Sandy Norrie, from Catterick, ran the Great North Run in 2008 to raise money for Breast Cancer Campaign.

He got in touch with BBC Tyne to tell us how he decided to take on the challenge after his wife Karen was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.

You can read the full story below, but first Sandy tells us how he got on.

Sandy's Great North Run 2008:

"I managed to finish the race in a very satisfying time of 2 hours 25 minutes, which I was pleased with.

Runner looking at watch

Runners in Great North Run 2008

"The day was excellent, everyone on the bus going across to start, people milling around at the start talking with each other, discussing why they were running and exchanging stories.

"The kind-hearted people of the North East, out on the streets cheering and clapping everyone on, drinks, fruit, biscuits and sweets being given out by these people, the atmosphere along the route was fantastic and much more than I'd ever anticipated.

"Coming down towards the seafront and seeing the Red Arrows doing their display and all the spectators cheering you along to the finish.

"What a brilliant day and an experience that must be repeated again."

Read the original feature about why Sandy decided to enter Great North Run 2008:

When Sandy Norrie crosses the finish line of the Great North Run on Sunday 5 October he can be assured of a rapturous reception.

Karen Norrie

Karen will be waiting at the finish

His wife, Karen, and young son, Calum, will both be waiting at South Shields to cheer him on, along with other members of their family.

Karen will be feeling especially proud, knowing that Sandy decided to take on the 13.1-mile challenge because of her.

Tough year

Karen, 34, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007.

It was seeing her battle with the disease that prompted Sandy to enter the Great North Run ballot, so that he could raise as much money as possible for the Breast Cancer Campaign.

"Karen was diagnosed in April-May time with breast cancer," Sandy says. "She hadn't felt a lump or anything just felt there was something wrong.

Sandy Norrie training for the Great North Run

Sandy's lost more than two stone

"We went to the hospital on the Friday, she had a scan and a mammogram and then they did a core biopsy and said they thought it was breast cancer and we'd have to go back on the following Tuesday for the results."

After an agonising weekend the results of the biopsy confirmed it was cancer.

"Within a fortnight she was in and had a mastectomy on her right side. Then there was a period of about three or four weeks of chemotherapy, then radiotherapy every day."

The chemotherapy made Karen very sick and she had to be hospitalised three times - once while they were on holiday at the other end of the country.

"It was taking it out of her and obviously taking it out of probably me and my son as well, just being a complete shock and getting used to everything," Sandy recalls.

"At that point I decided that if I could get into the Great North Run I would try and do it for one of the breast cancer charities. I wanted to do something to raise money if I could.

Running bug

Not a regular runner, and asthmatic, it was a big challenge for Sandy to take on, but one he thought was achievable.

"I think now I've got the bug. I really do feel it's quite enjoyable, just getting out and having the time by yourself."

Sandy Norrie

"The Great North Run always seems well supported with people on the sides, a good atmosphere.

"My father-in-law did it a couple of years ago and said it is a fantastic atmosphere and a great day and I just thought well it's pushing me to do something as well, which I've got a realistic chance of completing and doing."

And the training is going well.

After starting off with one and one-and-a-half mile walk-runs in February he's now running five or six times a week and has just run over 12 miles for the first time, with nothing worse to report than tired legs.

"I think now I've got the bug. I really do feel it's quite enjoyable, just getting out and having the time by yourself.

"If I can get under three hours, which I should be able to do, I'll be happy, if I can get under two-and-a-half hours I'll be ecstatic!

"But all my aim is really is to finish the run and raise money for the charity."

Runners at the finish line of this year's GNR

Runners took part for many causes


Karen, who got the all clear at her six-month check up, says she can't thank him enough.

"I can't believe the amount of support he's had and sponsorship and everything that he's done.

"I can't thank him enough really with respect of the support and sticking by really and at the end of the day there have been times where he's had to be both parents [to Calum]."

Sandy hopes to raise a minimum of £1,000 to help others with breast cancer and is already well on the way to achieving it.

And if he suddenly gets cold feet when the big day comes (though that's very unlikely) there'll be no getting out of it.

"We'll all be there making sure he gets on that bus to the start line!" says Karen.

last updated: 07/10/2008 at 16:30
created: 04/09/2008

You are in: Tyne > Great North Run > Great North Run - your stories > Running for Karen

About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy