Leigh and Jo's Story - Great North Run

“We have set up a NOT the Great North Run challenge for ourselves as we still want to raise money for St Oswald’s. Many people won’t realise the ongoing support families receive and the positive impact this has, especially for young children.”

Leigh and Jo Lancaster were supposed to be taking part in the 2023 Great North Run, however due to picking up an injury, the couple made the difficult decision to withdraw from this year’s event. We caught up with them to find out more about their ‘NOT the Great North Run’ challenge.

Tell us about your challenge:

We are taking on 4 challenges together, in the 2 weeks leading up to the Great North Run. This includes:

13.1 miles of swimming, 13.1 miles of rowing, 13.1 miles of cross training and 162 miles of cycling, as this is the distance we’d be travelling from home, in Derbyshire, up to Newcastle for the Great North Run.

Why St Oswald’s Hospice?

We lost our close friend Katherine to cancer and the support her husband and children received, and continue to receive, from St Oswald’s Hospice is amazing. We still want to do something to support this work.

Many people probably don’t realise the ongoing support that families receive and the positive impact that this support has especially for young children.

We have seen this first hand and we are grateful that St Oswald’s will continue to help our close friends.

How has it been going so far?

In all honesty, it’s been a lot harder than we expected! We’ve both picked up injuries this year and that meant we just weren’t getting our miles in for the half marathon. Before this, we only did running so changing our fitness activity has been a massive shock to the system but we’re both enjoying the challenge.

Do you have a favourite among the four challenges?

Leigh: The cross-training is definitely my least favourite. I’ve got quite into the rowing and my competitive side is driving me to beat my own PB every time I start, which is great but also means I’m tired for the other 3 activities.

Jo: I’m really enjoying getting into the swimming and the cycling, clocking up a decent number of miles each time. Rowing is my least favourite so Leigh has taken the lead on that one and I’ve done the same with the cross-training so we balance each other out.

How are you staying motivated? What are your go to tracks whilst competing?

As soon as we devised the challenge and put it out there, everyone knew which means we just had to do it.

People have been so generous and supportive, and for that alone, we have to get it completed. The kindness of people to be donating their hard earned cash and in some instances, it’s from people we’ve never even met and that spurs us on so much.

Jo: Music wise, I don’t really listen to much but that said, I did go through a James Greatest Hits album during a recent cycling session, which reminded me of my youth.

Leigh: Any rock, metal or grunge music is my go to – Queens of the Stone Age, Audioslave and Royal Blood are currently on repeat for me.

How will you celebrate completing your challenge?

Probably with a nice takeaway on the Saturday night. We’re also very much looking forward to our upcoming holiday in Greece.

We wish Leigh and Jo in their ‘NOT the Great North Run’ challenge! and to all of our Great North Runners, as they take on this year’s half-marathon.

Thank you for helping to keep our doors open for all who need us across the North East.

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