Getting Great North Run Ready

The full university team on the morning of their Great North Run | Image: David Golding

Places in 2018’s Great North Run are up for grabs, and the manager of Newcastle University’s team is urging anyone interested in taking part to get in touch.

Dr David Golding CBE, from the Institute of Sustabainability, organises the team, typically made up of around 60 staff and students. The nationally-acclaimed team raises money for action on global poverty and climate change.

The ballot for the race opens in January, but since students are likely to be busy with exams and the Christmas break, Golding is encouraging students to let him know now if they are intending to apply, so that he can remind them when the ballot opens and help them fill out the application form.

Golding is part of Newcastle’s Institute of Sustainability, but is also involved in the Jubilee Debt Campaign. This national charity calls for unjust debts of some of the world’s poorest countries to be cancelled and for an end to the use of debt as a form of international power.

40% of the money raised by the team goes to the Jubilee Debt Campaign, 10% each to STOPAIDS and the National Climate Coalition, with the remaining 40% donated to whichever aid or environmental charity that runner chooses to support.

Golding also provides resources such as recommended training schedules to runners and encourages them to keep on training

The nearly £20,000 raised by the team in 2017 contributes to a total of around £220,000 that they have raised for charity over the past sixteen years.

The first team Golding put together, in 2001, had the backing of the then-vice-chancellor James Wright. Since then each vice-chancellor and all the recent presidents of the Students’ Union and the university branch of UCU have acted as patrons of the university team.

Golding and his wife sort out the administration for the team, ensuring everyone is registered and Golding acts as “chief nagger” to keep everyone motivated through the training process.

Each year the team holds a training seminar, where new runners can get support from more experienced particpants. Golding also provides resources such as recommended training schedules to runners and encourages them to keep up training.

“Anyone, in ordinary health, can do it,” Golding said of the Great North Run. “If they do the training.”

Golding himself took part in the run in 2010, to celebrate his 70th birthday, despite confessing that he’s “never been a runner”. His crossed the finish line with a time just shy of three hours, very respectable but he joked: “I didn’t rival Mo Farah, let’s put it that way.”

Golding’s time on run day is more usually spent at the finish line in South Shields, where he waits for every member of the university team to cross the line, no matter how long he has to stand out in the rain. He takes a photo to mark each runner’s achievement.

Golding wants to give as many people the chance to take part as would like to, and those missing out in the ballot will be given high priority for these places

With 57,000 runners taking part in 2017’s race, starting places are in high demand, and around a third of those applying for places in the ballot are likely to be disappointed.

Members of the university team, however, have an extra chance of a place, with the Great North Run allocating 25 places directly to the JDC, to be used by those who don’t get a place through the ballot. 

Golding wants to give as many people the chance to take part as would like to, and those missing out in the ballot will be given high priority for these places. “I don’t think I’d be happy if the people in the ballot who didn’t get in didn’t get one of our 25 places,” said Golding.

Whether they get their place through the ballot or the JDC’s charity places, runners will only have to pay the £55 entry fee, with admin fees and the cost of JDC t-shirts covered by the charity. In addition to this, Golding offers a discount to students; if they raise £100 they get a third off their entry fee, rising to a fully-paid entry if they raise £300. Given that some students manage to raise over £500, this is a generous offer, and one that Golding hopes will encourage more students to take part.

“The last thing I want to do is to contribute to student debt,” Golding added, pointing out that the JDC’s aim is to eliminate debt, not add to it.

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