Firstly, I would like to say the most lasting memory I have of the GNR is how proud I was to be Captain of such a strong and committed team The Vegan Society had put forward for the event. Team Vegan were magnificent and it really was quite moving to see the members of the team assembled the night before the race united in the same aim of promoting the ethical vegan lifestyle we are all so passionate about. How everyone was ready to 'do battle' with the 13.1 miles ahead despite stories of very long and arduous journeys, ill health. injuries and various other misfortunes which would have put all but the most determined of people off.
The morning of the race was just awful. Rain, rain and more rain. I myself was nursing a hamstring tear, which I knew would be affected by such appalling conditions. Nevertheless, I was determined to get to the Start as I had an interview with Radio 5 Live booked. I have to say they were not keen on focusing on the vegan 'angle' but I managed to mention the team and The Vegan Society which I was pleased to be able to do.
Then the long wait before the start. Unfortunately, because of the interview, I had to be there at 8 a.m. which meant rather a long wait in the rain with no shelter just getting colder and wetter by the minute. However, I clasped my bin liners around myself, stuffed my ice-pack on my hamstring and thought of better days!
I did get on the front grid of runners on the side with Haile but I decided it would be totally inappropriate to push my way right to the front as I had a horrible feeling my hamstring might snap when I started running as it felt like I had a red hot knife digging in when I started to extend my stride. If this had happened I knew I would be completely in the way of the guys looking for fast times and would then have half the field on my side of the road piling down on top of me. I thought it more appropriate to stand to one side where, if I had problems, I could just jump off the road quickly.
When the gun went off I decided I would just have to take it gently and literally see how far I could get. I figured if the Team Vegan vest could be out there in front for a mile it might make some folk think the first woman they saw is VEGAN. As the miles past I kept expecting another lady to pass me as I knew I was only running just over 6 minute mile pace. I did not even look at my watch as I thought if I did it might make me want to speed up and I knew this was not possible if I wanted to get to the finish with a leg in the state mine was. I had resigned myself to thinking that every mile I could stay out front and get the 'first lady' cheer was a bonus for Team Vegan and our cause.
I have to say it was wonderful to arrive in South Shields in the lead proudly wearing my vest and having people scream 'first lady is coming', 'come on pet', 'Team Vegan', 'come on vegan lady', 'she's a vegan' etc. etc. It really made me proud, not of winning but of being able to do have a voice and doing something positive for the millions of animals who have no voice. If one of those people goes away and remembers the fact a vegan lady was out front then, as far as I am concerned, that is great.
Think what they must have thought when they say how many of us there were and how strong we all were. I think that, despite not being able to get the publicity we would have liked, actions speak louder than words and they may have tried to silence us in the press and media but they certainly could not 'shut us up' when we got out there and showed them what we could do!
At the end of the race my leg stiffened terribly and started to hurt as my tights were wet through and getting wetter by the minute. I had thrown away my 'spare bottoms' at the start of the race as the rain was so heavy I had kept them on to try and keep a little warmer and drier. In effect, I had nothing to change into. I went to grab my bag and some painkillers and a guy who was there managing one of the Elite athletes offered me a lift back to the hotel. I had to take it as my leg was hurting and it was beginning to have a 'knock on' effect to my bad knee which was getting swollen. I am really sorry I could not have waited around and seen other members of the team finish and have the photograph taken at the end but the team is not about one person it is about the group and, as I am only a tiny part of that group, I figured that although it would have been lovely to be there, I would not be missed.
What next, Team Vegan does London ?!!!