Toeing the line with sporting heroes
15 September 2023
For years, the Great North Run has been attracting thousands of road runners from across the world. It seemed very fitting, therefore, that Sir Mo Farah chose this venue to be his final competitive race. But as Farah’s running journey came to an end, for others it was just the beginning. Thomas Gostelow (James Thie, North Somerset AC) also tackled the 13.1 miles and lined up in the elite field for the first time. We caught up with Thomas to learn more about his story: how he first got involved in the sport, what it was like to compete in the Great North Run and how it felt to line up next to Sir Mo Farah.
How it started
Thomas first began running as an U13 athlete at his local club, Charnwood AC, but it wasn’t until he went to university that he really started to get involved with the longer distances:
"I was really lucky that my club structure was similar to the one at my university so the transition wasn’t too much of a shock. I think being at Cardiff Met just heightened my training. I went into university as an 800m and 1500m runner and left as a 10k and Half Marathon runner. I found the longer sessions easier and enjoyed running more mileage so it seemed like the natural progression."
A balancing act
Thomas completed his Masters degree at Cardiff Metropolitan University earlier this year. Since then, he has been getting used to managing his training around a full-time job. We asked Thomas how he has found this transition:
"It’s been more of a shock than perhaps I realised! Even simple things like having to get up earlier to run before work and then keep the motivation high enough to run again when you get back is trickier than I thought it would be. The key for me is getting out there when I can, making the most of the time and having different types of goals to keep me motivated."
It was actually the switch from student to employee that prompted Thomas to tackle the Great North Run this year:
After a hard few months of training, Thomas spent the week prior easing back on his running and getting ready for a big effort on Sunday. This gave Thomas more time to reflect on what the race meant to him. Thomas explained how his dad actually ran the Great North Run a few years ago and that since then it has been a bucket list item:
“I’ve always enjoyed watching the Great North Run on the TV and then watching my dad complete the half in person just made me want to do the race even more. I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the race and seeing what I can do. Hopefully all the training will have paid off.”
Enjoying the mo-ment
While Thomas was focusing on his own performance, he was also aware that he would be joined on the start line by a certain Sir Mo Farah. We asked Thomas what it felt like to line up next to Farah for the first, and last, time:
“It was really exciting. I watched Mo on the TV growing up and remember watching him run at the Birmingham Grand Prix in the build up to London 2012 and finding it so inspiring. To be able to line up next to Mo for the last time was a privilege and something I will never forget.”
Soaking up the atmosphere
Thomas finished 23rd in a time of 68:47, a strong run in hot conditions.
“I was ranked quite far down in the elite field going into the race so I was really pleased to finish 23rd in a quality line-up. It was really hot so I tried to be controlled at the start and not get too excited and try and keep up with Mo. I found miles ten-twelve really tough as they were quite hilly and I was tired by that point but the finish was amazing. The crowd were so loud and all the cheering and support carried me through to the end.”
It is clear that the spectators played a massive part in helping Thomas get to the finish. We asked Thomas if he had anyone at the race specifically supporting him:
“I was fortunate enough to have my parents, my girlfriend and her family up there. I was hoping to put down a solid performance as a way of thanking them and hopefully I did that. Hearing a familiar voice out on the course just gave me that extra boost to keep pushing and working hard.”
Looking to the future
Looking ahead, Thomas will be running the Midland Road Relays for his club North Somerset AC before taking stock and deciding what to do next. One thing is clear though, that Thomas definitely hopes to be back in Newcastle for the Great North Run again soon: