The Simplyhealth Great North Run is the premier event in the Great Run series and is firmly established as the world’s most popular half-marathon. However this year things are going to be done COVID-19 style!!

I have no intention in running the Great North Run this year or any time soon. After completing this 13.1mile course 6 times, I now stick to 5km runs!!! I take my hat off to all those who have put in the training and ready for the run on Sunday.

Great North Run History

The Simplyhealth Great North Run was devised by former Olympian Brendan Foster as a fun run back in 1981. It’s now run every September in North East England. With a distance of 12 miles, between Newcastle upon Tyne to South Shields, this half-marathon is the largest in the world and the UK’s largest running event.

The fastest time is 58 hours and 56 minutes by Martin Mathathi. In 1991, Mo Farah won the Great North Run for the sixth consecutive time at just over 59 minutes.

How not to train for the Great North Run!!

So my first Great North Run back in 2003, my Sister in Law was in charge of the training, she was organised and we were well prepared for the run. We arrived with what we thought was plenty of time, but then you have to get the metro with thousands of runners and we just made the start as the gun went off. Really hot day and who new the GNR has so many hills!!!!!!!

I remember around mile 11 having a complete meltdown and my sister in law having strong words!!! We made it round in 2 hours 15 mins (not bad!). I do remember however spending the next 2 hours in our car trying to get out of the car park. So my advice to anyone running next year is taking the Metro!

2006 disaster as went out to a ball the night before, not advisable! However, made it round in one piece and in a good time

2011 New Years Eve my very good friend Janet Craggs from and I thought after a few Proseccos that we would sign up for 4 years worth of the GNR!!! Oohh how we regretted this by year 4!! but if anyone knows Janet and I; if we commit to a challenge then no matter what we are doing it (3-mile training for a 28-mile walk! another blog!!)

In true form we would always start our training well and 6 miles we could do in 1 hour, then harvest would hit and being two farmers wives with young children we would find ourselves training early or late in the night.

We have run in sweltering heat, torrential rain, we have laughed and cried and both wished the other would give in. The million runner GNR was the worst of the runs as I lost Janet at mile 4 due to the sheer volume of runners and had to run on my own which is never good. Never saw her for the whole run and we finished 40 seconds apart!!!

All I can say to those dedicated runners who are planning to run the virtual Great North Run on Sunday is Good Luck! Have a good playlist and listen to your body. Have a good pasta meal the night before to fuel you. Here is my homemade lasagne which will help fuel you body for the run and tastes great.

Lasagne Recipe



  • 1 tbsp. Olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 garlic cloves grated
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 tbsp. Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. tomato puree
  • 200ml red wine (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 9-12 lasagne sheets (depending on size and shape of dish)
  • 50g Parmesan Cheese
  • White Sauce
  • 250g Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1tbsp Spelt flour
  • 500ml milk
  • 200g cheese grated


  1. In a large pan, heat the olive oil over a low heat. Fry the onion, carrot, celery and garlic for 5 mins, or until softened. Add the mince and fry on a medium heat until golden. Turn up the heat, pour in the wine and bubble until reduced. Stir in the tomato purée, chopped tomatoes and stock. Add in the Worcestershire sauce and Balsamic vinegar and simmer for 15 mins, or until the liquid has reduced. Season.
  2. Meanwhile, make the white sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat and add the flour. Whisk until combined and cook on low for 1-2 mins. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the milk until you have a loose sauce. Season. Return to a gentle heat and whisk constantly until the sauce thickens. Add the grated cheese and ricotta cheese and mix well
  3. Preheat the oven to gas 6, 200°C, fan 180°C. Layer up the lasagne in a baking dish, starting with a third each of the ragu, then the pasta, then the white sauce. Repeat twice. Top with the Parmesan and mozzarella then bake in the oven for 40-45 mins, until piping hot and crisp and bubbling on top. Serve immediately.

Freezing and defrosting guidelines

Once the dish has cooled completely, transfer it to an airtight, freezer-safe container, seal and freeze for up to 1-3 months. To serve, defrost thoroughly in the fridge overnight before reheating. Loosely cover with foil and bake until dish is thoroughly heated through. Reheat until piping hot.

2 thoughts on “Tails of the Simplyhealth Great North Run”

  1. Was interested to read your recipe and I will
    Defs try balsamic in mine now!
    A friend taught me years ago if u serve immediately it tends to collapse/spread on the plate and shes right! So now , she and I , make earlier then quickly reheat in hot oven when required and it sits on plates in perfect squares !


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