Introducing…. George Nicholson!

Today I’d like to introduce you to my friend George Nicholson, who I met at my running club. Long distance runner, and general legend, he has been running for almost sixty years, starting when he came first in his school sports day aged 7 in 1955!  Currently he’s part of Mel C’s Team North in the Vodafone JustGiving challenge. He’s been a real inspiration to me since I joined the club, and here are just three reasons why:

  1. I have honestly never seen him without a smile on his face
  2. He has run every single Great North Run since it started in 1981
  3. He was selected as an Olympic torch carrier when it passed through County Durham

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Most recently, George undertook a challenge to run 8 park runs in one day in an effort to raise money for the Acorn’s Children Hospice in the West Midlands. He’s raised over £10,000 for this organisation after they did a wonderful job in caring for his granddaughter in 2006.

8 park runs in 1 day seems like a huge challenge to me: negotiating the traffic to get to each one would be bad enough (nightmare in Birmingham!), but you have to psych yourself up for 8 different short runs.

It sounded like one long day of interval training to me. Which, to be honest, isn’t my ideal way to spend a Saturday. He was kind enough to answer some of the questions I had about the whole affair….

8 park runs in one day – that’s a lot! Why did you want to do this?

For a while I wanted to do something in the area where Acorns is located, and park runs were a great choice as they involve the local running communities too. Plus, Acorns is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary, and 8 park runs is 25 miles. It seemed like the perfect way to commemorate!

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How do you train for something like this?

A few weeks before the big day I started doing 5ks during the day with at least one hour break between them. I gradually built up to 6 one day, and then finally did 8:

  • 2 early runs around the Durham park run route at 7 & 8am
  • The official Durham park run at 9
  • Repeated this at 10.30 and 11.30!
  • Three final routes of my village at 2.30, 3.30 and 5.30pm

On the day itself, what was the biggest challenge/highlight

The biggest challenge was trying to avoid leg cramps and nausea on the final two runs.

The biggest highlight was that at every park run, I was met with friendly faces and support from local runners. People I’d never met before came out especially to run their park run route with me – that was really special. And, of course, the best moment was crossing the finish line of the final run at Canon Hill, Coventry!

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Tell us about the Vodafone Just Giving competition, and being on Mel C’s team! 

Vodafone teamed up with JustGiving to help raise money for a number of charities rather than choosing just one charity to support. Plus it makes giving to charity easier: people donate by text. Vodafone pays the cost of the text, and there’s the added bonus of 25% gift aid.

Team North is headed by Mel C, and so far has raised £6,461 for their chosen charities, with Team South currently on £1,894 (of course it doesn’t matter who wins really!)*.

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As part of being in Team North, George did a training session with Mel C, who is training for her first half marathon in two weeks at the Great North Run. I think this makes George sportier than Sporty Spice!

What I love about this story is the creativity, the stamina needed, and the good will of all the local communities coming out to support George. Running connects people, and this is a great example of the kindness that’s part of the sport. Plus the added banter of ‘So, what Spice does that make you, George?’ is fun too 😉

George’s JustGiving page can be found here if you want to learn more, and I know in two weeks time at his 33rd Great North Run he’ll do everyone proud!! Onya George!

Ellie B

*George is very good natured, and I think would hate for the competitive element to overshadow the point of the thing. But… I’m a little competitive, and I say “Come on #TeamNorth!!!!!!!” 😉