The Great North Run… It’s in the bag! #TeamPanda

The Great North Run

When I signed up to take part in the BUPA Great North Run for WWF UK, I could never have anticipated how my weekend in Newcastle with my dad would have played out. It was full of drama, delights and would you believe it… sunshine! While it wasn’t all quite as ‘Easy’ as I thought, it all turned out for the best in the end for me and WWF UK who got an unplanned donation today of £261 to my fundraising page: www.justgiving.com/BubblesGNR

Let me tell you why…

The not so ‘Easy’ jet up to Newcastle

As we dashed across town from Ealing to Gatwick, we knew the traffic was bad but we arrived at the airport with ten minutes to spare. I checked my bag and my dad and I walked through to departures, only to realise that he’d left his oversized deep heat and freeze spray in the pocket of his carry on bag. We had to abandon them both leaving us a few pounds short and feeling a bit silly that we’d forgotten to pack them in my suitcase just moments before. Nonetheless, we were both excited to board the plane and settle in for our first night in Newcastle ahead of the big race on Sunday.

Stepping off the plane we headed to the baggage carousel and sat and waited for my bag to arrive while checking Facebook on our iPhones… as you do! When we looked up we suddenly realised it was just us left waiting and no more bags were appearing on the conveyer belt. I calmly went out to talk to the @EasyJet staff to confirm my suspicions that it was just a little bit late arriving and would pop up shortly but alas, this was not the case. My bag, filled with my running kit, race number, clothes, toiletries and just about everything else you’d need for a weekend away and a half marathon race were all sitting in Gatwick still. At this point I was told I’d receive my bag on Sunday evening so I shouldn’t worry.  I somehow managed to remain calm and kindly explain that this was far from ideal and while I felt miserable on the inside, I knew I’d made a commitment to my charity – WWF UK – and my dad to take part in the Great North Run and I was going to do whatever it took the next day to make that happen.

Hurdles were not part of the plan

Having filled in a missing baggage form, we stepped out in the rain and the dark to jog over to the hotel as quickly as possible so we could check-in and go shopping for basic toiletries as I had both of our deodorants, toothbrushes and more in the bag. Approaching the hotel we noticed that the metal, waist-high fence was in the way and to get round it we’d have to go all the way around and get even more drenched than we already were. Dad then suggested we hurdle the fence to save time so I lifted myself over carefully and then watched him try to do the same and instead do a tumble that would have made the most excellent Instagram video that, had I filmed it, would have definitely gone viral! Rolling straight over on to his back in a white shirt on to the mud it was safe to say we’d had better ideas but we laughed it off and checked-in to our room.

Dinner with extra sauce?

We popped over to the local Shell garage to pick emergency toothpaste, face wipes and bits and bobs and decided to grab a Subway sandwich at the same time as it was gone 10pm and we were pretty hungry. Dad called over to ask what sauce I wanted on my sandwich and as I looked over his finger was blood red. Assuming it was ketchup I thought it was a joke but then it dawned on me that the brolly we’d borrowed from the hotel had sliced his finger and he was bleeding!

They do say everything comes in threes don’t they!

By this point we were somewhat hysterical and for those of you that know me well you’ll understand that when I get stressed I laugh uncontrollably and so does my dad it would seem. The hotel staff found the whole situation hilarious too. In fact the girl on the front desk told us later that her mum was in tears listening to our adventures!

The crazy vlog

In my heightened state of crazy, I decided that the best way to document everything and to make sure that @EasyJet would help get my luggage to me or even compensate me for replacing the contents of my bag, I took to one of my favourite social networks, YouTube! And this is what happened:

At the same time, I shared my story with fellow runners on a Facebook group I’m part of called Running the World and was overwhelmed by support and offers of trainers and kit to borrow, suggestions of where to buy new gym gear and good old fashioned empathy. On their advice I visited a store in Newcastle high street called Start Fitness who were more than helpful and even gave me a 10% discount considering my circumstances.

Replacing what was #InTheBag

I’d tweeted @EasyJet on Friday night with no real decision on what they would consider doing to compensate me. I wasn’t looking for a cash payment for the inconvenience, just assurance that my expenses would be covered to replace what was in the bag. With no answer I just went ahead regardless and got what I needed and even managed to get some make up samples from the lovely staff in Fenwick’s at the Clinique counter so I could look pretty when I met up with friends later that day. 

What’s your number?

Next stop was a quick visit to the Pasta Party to get my replacement run number and chip because, guess what? Mine were in the bag! The BUPA team were able to help me in minutes and I was now all set to run on Sunday. 

Surprise, surprise!

Pasta in hand and taking in the atmosphere over the Tyne looking down at the kiddies race, who should appear but our friends Nicky and Marc from the Running the World (RTW) Facebook group. My dad and I became friends with them both 2 years ago through this group and it was the first time that they had met him in a non-social media capacity. Needless to say this made his day!

RTW

A few hours later we met up with them again with more RTW runners at the pub which is where I received the tweet i’d been waiting for from @EasyJet to confirm that they would indeed cover the costs of my expenses – hurrah!

Great North Run – Race Day!

Panda faceI ran in new shoes, with a makeshift WWF UK running top ( I cut out a panda mask and pinned it to my back) and a face painted like a panda thanks to the lovely Tanya Dixon. In spite of the heat and the hills it was an incredible race with an amazing crowd of supporters to boot. I will never forget the chants of ‘Oggy, Oggy, Oggy, Oi, Oi, Oi’ echoing through the tunnels or the lady handing out ice cubes at around 7 miles which I promptly shoved down my sports bra to keep cool!

Waving as I ran by the WWF UK team on the sidelines at mile 12, I ran the home straight to the blaring sound of Bon Jovi – Livin’ on a prayer over the loud speakers (one of my step-sister’s favourite songs)! I’m not going to deny the fact that it made me a little bit emotional for the first time all weekend to think that she might be looking down on me at that point.

So in spite of all the drama, it was an amazing day and we celebrated in style at the Finisher’s Marquee aka the Beer Tent!

Beer tent

The last leg

bagThe weekend was almost over and it was sad to say goodbye to good friends but I think dad and I were ready to wind down and relax on the plane home. My bag would be at the airport ready to collect and away we’d go. Alas no. Our plane was delayed and my bag was AWOL. Not at Gatwick or Newcastle. My face dropped and my heart sank a little as I tried to remember everything I’d packed including my favourite jeans and shoes.

The good news is that the very next day, Monday morning at 9am, I got a call to say they’d found my bag and would be sending it via courier as soon as possible! Hurrah again! It’s Wednesday today and I can confirm I’ve not only received my expense claim from @EasyJet that I filed via Twitter DM with photos of receipts and goods purchased but I also have my bag, which I hugged with delight as my colleague passed it to me today in the office.

The Panda made me do it!

All this drama and delight aside, let’s not forget why my dad and I were took part in the Great North Run. We did it because we care immensely about the wildlife, the environment and the people on this planet and we took on the challenge to raise £350 each to donate to the incredible work that WWF UK do. They help to prevent endangered animals from becoming extinct, preserve the wilds, the rainforests and other amazing places that make up the most beautiful spaces for the creatures, flora and fauna in the world to live and grow, and finally they educate our people to not only live safely alongside dangerous animals like tigers without fear and how to reap the benefits of the land in places like the amazon where wild rubber grows without exhausting supplies and damaging the land.

This is why we asked our friends and family to donate, this is why we hosted our raffle and this is why I’m donating all the expenses that @EasyJet reimbursed me this week to WWF UK. So thank you to @EasyJet for everything – It made my weekend an adventure and helped us get one step closer to our fundraising total.

If you’d like to support WWF UK too there is still time. Simply visit www.justgiving.com/BubblesGNR

Thanks for reading, watching and please do share my story! 

 

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