During my final few weeks at Great North Run Culture I worked as key assistant to this year’s ‘Moving Image Commission’ winner Layla Curtis, helping her to create the work that will be shown in 2015 to celebrate the next Great North Run (pre-planning at its best). Her work is based in film – I’m not telling you anything more because you’ll have to wait and see!
I was asked to assist Layla in recording the footage of both the run and a few test outings before the big weekend. The first of these outings was to the central motorway underpass, an unusual site visit to say the least! With the roads closed for cleaning in preparation for the run, it was the perfect chance for Layla to scope the area and devise the shots that we would use the following weekend.
Walking down the middle of a motorway on a Sunday morning, in broad daylight, while laden with recording equipment was completely surreal. I couldn’t take 3 steps without looking back over my shoulder, expecting the phantom cars to come zooming past, although I don’t know why I worried because that morning I had been handed possibly the most memorable outfit I have ever had the privilege of sporting. Dressed head to foot in luminous hi-vis, with boots that were so stiff moving your ankles was impossible, resulted in the three of us not only clumping along the road but also being the most reliable source of light in the underpass! The site visit allowed Layla and I the chance to not only get used to working together, but also collect the shots that would be our guide on run day in managing the ever changing light of the underpass, along with giving us a sense of the space, before it was packed with hundreds of runners.
With just a few more test days during the week, Layla and the filming team (including myself) were prepared for the last ‘practice’ before the big day. The Great City Games is an amazing event in its own right and its place in the line-up, the day before the Great North Run Million, meant that the atmosphere on site was magnificent and the range of events to cover kept us on our toes all day. After splitting off into pairs Lucinda Grange (one of the four camera operators) and I headed to the start line of the 5K run. With our camera rolling we captured hundreds of runners streaming past the banners and horns, following the route around the quayside which is littered with Newcastle-Gateshead’s iconic landmarks, all of which viewed with new eyes after their grand celebration during the Million opening ceremony.
The next event to take place that day was the Bupa Mini Great North Run, populated with tiny little tots and their stoic parents. Some of them ran, some of them were carried, but almost all of them smiled! Lucinda and I admittedly spent a great deal of time waving with grins from ear to ear at the ‘wee bairns’ as they rounded the first corner. With children ranging from just 3 to 8 years old, it was encouraging to see such young participants getting involved in sport and thoroughly enjoying the experience. The four waves of little athletes were then followed by the juniors who seemed to complete their elongated course with such ease I had to wonder if they had even run it at all! Finally the day was rounded off with the trio of wheelchair racers who took to the course and gave us some beautiful finishing shots of power, energy and perseverance.
As the Great City Games continued on to their athletics events across the water, the filming team and I packed up and headed home, readying ourselves for the final day in a sport filled weekend - the Great North Run Million.