Great effort in the Great North Run

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HUNDREDS of inspirational people from Hartlepool were among the dedicated entrants who took part in the Bupa Great North Run.

Runners from the town, some of them experienced and running to boost fitness and some of them running for causes close to their heart, were among around 40,000 people who tackled the 13.1-mile race from Newcastle to South Shields yesterday.

Dedicated University Hospital of Hartlepool nurses Rosie Livingston, Joanne Thomson, Pamela Hauxwell and Pauline Wallace got round the gruelling course in under four hours to collect their commemorative medals.

They were running to raise money for research into what treatments are available to MS sufferers.

The four are part of a seven-strong team that work in the chemotherapy day unit at the town’s hospital and whose dedication has seen then named Team of the Year in the Hartlepool Mail Best of Health Awards for three years in a row.

Joanne said after the race: “It was an incredible event. A sea of bodies and all with a common goal of raising money for causes close to their hearts.

“There were some amazing people taking part in the event and despite the aches and pains we all feel privileged to have taken part.

“It’s humbling that people supported and sponsored us and we are extremely grateful for that.”

People can still donate to their cause either through the Holdforth Road hospital or at http://beatms.mssociety.org.uk/netcommunity/thomsonsrun.

Also running was Bishop Cuthbert resident Andrew Millward, who faces a daily battle against cystic fibrosis (CF).

Andrew, who turns 41 – the average age of life expectancy of CF sufferers – on Wednesday, completed the course in a very respectable two hours, 58 minutes and six seconds, despite fighting a condition that sees sufferers’ lungs and digestive systems become clogged with thick mucus.

The elated dad-of-one, who has to take 40 tablets a day and uses a nebuliser breathing mask, said: “I got to the last 400 metres and spotted my wife, my mam and dad and stopped to give them a big hug and started crying. I kept going and it was sheer relief to get over that finish line.”

Andrew, who is married to Rachel, 36, and dad to seven-year-old Benjy, added: “It’s a big thing I’ve done, I’m quite proud.”

He ran with his brother Neil and Mark Atkinson, Sarah Mincher and Sian Wetherill, all teaching staff from Throston Primary School, where Benjy attends and Andrew is parent governor, and he thinks they will have raised at least £2,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.

Andrew and the team can be sponsored at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/throstonprimary

Also running was Paul Blenkinsop, 28, from the Seaton Lane area of town.

He tackled the run in aid of the heart unit at Newcastle’s Freeman hospital to thank medics who saved his daughter Lorelai’s life after she was born with a rare heart condition.

The one-year-old had to have two lifesaving heart operations in her first four weeks of life after her oxygen levels were dangerously low.

Paul, Lorelai’s full-time carer, who is married to Ruth, 27, took three hours and 10 minutes to finish.

He said: “I’m absolutely over the moon, it was absolutely phenomenal and the amount of people that patted you on the back and cheered you on really kept you going.

“As well as raising money for a really fantastic charity, I’ve also loved gaining new friends from it.”

Paul thinks he will have raised about £600 in sponsorship and there is still time to donate at: http://www.justgiving.com/Paulblenkinsop

It is hoped Lorelai’s heart defect will fix itself as she grows.

If not she may need another operation.

Also among the runners was English Martyrs School teacher Colette Bartholomew, 28, who ran to raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance, which attended a bus crash outside the school in 2007 which saw 22 pupils injured.

She completed the race in two hours 26 minutes and is still taking sponsors at http://www.justgiving.com/EMSHartlepool.

The Mail’s Head of Features Chris Cordner was set to do the Great North Run but had to withdraw with a stomach problem the day before the race.