Bupa Great North Run founder Brendan Foster, one millionth finisher Tracy Cramond and IAAF vice president Sebastian Coe (© Organisers)
Tracey Cramond, the millionth finisher at the Great North Run, is preparing to follow in the footsteps of former world record-holder and European champion Brendan Foster to trace the roots of one of the world’s greatest half marathon.
It was while training in New Zealand in 1980 that Brendan took part in the 70,000-strong Round the Bays race in Auckland and vowed to create a mass participation run in the North East of England.
Thirty five years on, the Great North Run chairman and co-founder is honouring his pledge to send the millionth finisher in the IAAF Gold Label Road Race and flagship event in the IAAF’s Athletics for a Better World global social responsibility programme to Auckland to run Round the Bays on Sunday 8 March.
Having taken the Great North Run past the one million mark last September, amid a blaze of publicity, Cramond is getting ready to follow in Brendan’s antipodean footsteps.
“Brendan said to me at the time, ‘This is your ten minutes of fame’,” she recalled.
“I think Mr Foster had better check his watch. Ten minutes! It’s been a whirlwind ever since. It’s been amazing.”
Cramond has been an active sports person all her life but only took up running in 2013 after the death of her mother.
She completed the 13.1 miles of the Great North Run that year with her son-in law, Danny, and then entered the 2014 event to raise money for Butterwick Hospice in Stockton.
“It’s a charity very close to my heart,” said Cramond, who works as a buyer for the National Health Service.
“And it was very popular with my mum, because of the care they give to all ages but especially to children and babies; that’s why I did the Great North Run again last year, to raise money for Butterwick.
"And then when I came over the finish line, my life went in a tilt. I get recognised when I go into supermarkets. People ask me how it’s going. And I get quizzical looks quite often – that half recognition and half ‘where do I know her from’ look."
Tracey has switched on the Christmas lights at South Shields with pop star Joe McElderry, featured in the Great North Greats Exhibition, been appointed a Great North Run ambassador and been guest of honour at the Butterwick Ball.
She has not taken part in a running event since the 2014 Great North Run but has been running three or four times a week in readiness for joining the masses in the relative sprint of the 8.4km Round the Bays event.
“I’ve checked up a little bit on the race online and there seems to be quite a huge number of people involved,” said Cramond.
“It looks like a fun weekend targeted at all ages and I’ve seen pictures of an incredible amount of people crossing over bridges and running along by the bays.
“I’ve been to Auckland before. I’ve got family out there: two sisters-in-law, a brother-in-law and lots of nieces and nephews. It’s a beautiful place – very, very pretty. My dad is coming out with me. I only got involved in running in memory of my mum and my dad has been my staunchest supporter. He’s always been there for me, on the finish line."
Great North Run organisers for the IAAF