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Gearing up for The Great North Run

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Helen Blaby Helen Blaby | 14:16 UK time, Friday, 18 September 2009

Update: 20/09/2009 16:47

See photos from 5 live's broadcast at the Great North Run 2009 in the Flickr slideshow below:

Helen Blaby getting ready for The Great North Run

Tamsin Curnow - who produced this morning's 5 live breakfast - and I have just had the following conversation on our way into the studio:

"Nearly there, bird"
"Yeah, seemed a good idea at the time..."
"Actually, I'm not sure it did..."

You see, we're both doing the Great North Run on Sunday, along with a few other 5 livers. She signed up to it during a night shift, and I was talked in to it by Kate Williams, who reads the news. She caught me unawares one morning in April and convinced me it'd be a good idea.

I've needed to do something to get fit for a long time. At school I was in the netball, hockey, tennis and swimming teams but since university, and getting a job which involves sitting on my bum for most of the day and getting up at ridiculous O'Clock, my weight has crept up and up and my fitness levels have gone way down.

Kate's been brilliant, she lives not far from me in Northamptonshire so has been my training partner, making sure I do actually go out and do stuff. Sure, there have been times when I could have cheerfully strangled her, but we've had a lot of fun as well.

So to the big day, I'm doing this on behalf of Pancreatic Cancer UK after losing my Dad to this miserable disease in 2002. It's one of the lesser known forms of cancer, although with Patrick Swayze having died from it last week that might change. Of the 7000 people diagnosed with it last year, only 300 of them are with us this and anything we can do to raise awareness and help fund research is a good thing. Well, I'm trying to tell myself it is anyway.

I've met some amazing people in the last 4 months, one of them, Trace Allen, is running his 25th Great North Run - but it's his 3rd since surgery and chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer. He's one of the lucky ones.

The other man, and my new running buddy, is Mike Hare, or as he's known to many 'The Incredible Shrinking Man' he's written a book about his amazing weight loss story called 'From Sofa to Start Line' and he's promised to be the perfect gentleman and escort me around the 13.1 mile course from Newcastle to South Shields.

So, my target time for the Great North Run is 'Sunday' and the only person who can actually beat me in that field of 50-odd thousand is me. I'm sort of looking forward to the day, but I'm particularly looking forward to the pint of cider on the finish line. Whatever happens, the challenge for me has been actually getting to the start line. I'm fitter than I have been for a very long time, and it's been four months of my life that I'll never forget.

Helen Blaby presents the travel news on BBC Radio 5 live

  • Helen will be back to tell us how it went next week.
  • The Great North Run is the largest sports participation event in Britain. 5 live's coverage of the run starts at 0930 Sunday. Other 5 live people running include Donal McIntyre, Kate Williams, Rachael Hodges, Luke Harvey, Sarah Ransome, Rachel Burden and Andy Bate.
  • Presenter (and runner) Rachel Burden asked listeners to suggest tracks to listen to on the course. Her playlist is on the 5 live Breakfast blog.


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