Josie at GNR 2017

Josie beforeJosie duringJosie after

Great North Run day started overcast but dry, writes Josie Neale. As promised from the world's biggest half marathon, the atmosphere was brilliant and the whole race well organised.

Brendan Foster started the race and 43,000 of us waited patiently in our starting pens, watching Mo Farah on the big screens. As I crossed the start line, we were well spaced out and shortly after, the Red Arrows soared overhead with their characteristic display of red, white and blue plumes of smoke.

After crossing the Tyne Bridge, the first few miles went well, with frequent water stops and lots of crowd support. The course is generally flat (compared to the hills of Sevenoaks) and the road course was wide enough to accommodate everyone without too much weaving around.

I was still feeling good at the half way point, but without my trusty pacer (Stephen is suffering from a nasty retrocalcaneal bursitis) I lost my rhythm around the 8 mile point. The crowds kept me going and I was so relieved when I could finally see the sea at the top of the hill in South Shields, where the race finishes after a short stretch along the coast.

I finished in 2:07:34, which I was delighted with, knocking 21 minutes off my previous half marathon attempt!