This year Simon Drew will join Team CLIC Sargent in the Great North Run for the ninth time! And he will make his way around the 13.1 mile course dressed as Marge Simpson. Simon explains why he first signed up to the half marathon and what keeps him coming back for more.
"Many years ago my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32, this had a devastating effect on my family, and I wanted to do something to help, but the problem was that I did not know what to do, I felt helpless and lost.
"After some thought and a little bit of research, I decided that I wanted to run the Great North Run for CLIC Sargent. Cancer is a terrible disease and unfortunately, my family found out first hand, but for a child to suffer with cancer seems especially cruel to me, as a young child that should have all the excitement of what life has to offer.
It had to be CLIC Sargent
"Instead of choosing a breast cancer charity, I opted for CLIC Sargent, my mind set was that I was still supporting a cancer charity, but I would be helping the younger generation with their fight and I liked the thought of that, so for me it had to be CLIC Sargent.
"In a strange kind of way I feel like part of a family now with CLIC Sargent, and it’s fair to say that I feel like I have an emotional bond with this charity now, after running and supporting them for many years.
"The Great North Run is epic, emotionally charged, and certainly not easy!"
"I wanted to do something that I wasn’t entirely sure that I could complete, and put myself to the test to help young people, who are tested and challenged every single day whilst they battle with cancer.
"So picture this, it’s race day, and I’m at the start of the largest half marathon in the world. I am just one person in more than 50,000 people, many of which are running in memory of a loved one who has passed or raising money for a charity to help others.
"All of a sudden I think, ‘OMG, I’m in the same race as Mo Farah, and other athletes from all over the globe. Never mind Mo, I have to bring it all home for CLIC Sargent and get those sponsors rolling in'.
"Shortly after the start, the mighty red arrows fly past, red, white and blue smoke pour from the back of the jets as they pass overhead whilst you are running, the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, instantly, almost as if to attention.
"Along the route bands are playing music, Elvis is singing on one corner, whilst people playing steel drums to a calypso beat are on the next corner, ready to pick up from the fading Elvis. All of this entertainment and support makes me forget that I’m running, and sure enough, I’m past the half way point.
"I remember an interview that Paula Radcliffe did, and she said 'ease off the gas a touch on the final descent towards the final mile'. I applied this advice, and thought to myself ‘that gal knows her stuff’ as I cruised the final mile and passed the soldiers that lined the route into the finish. Job done.
This run is so unique
"From Newcastle to South Shields, people line the streets giving their support, holding out all sorts of goodies, Jelly babies, sweets and orange pieces. One year, I saw an old lady giving out ice lollies; people like her make this run so unique.
"At 10 miles, a guy gives out paper cups filled with beer from a barrel and one year, I promised myself I will have a beer at ten miles, and the first time I ran in fancy dress, I enjoyed a refreshing, cold beer.
"I always apply for the Great North Run ballot, and when I am successful, I still contact CLIC Sargent and tell them that I will raise funds for them and they are always so grateful for my support. I would not consider running the Great North Run without supporting them, as I strongly believe this race is a great opportunity to raise money and awareness for charities in need.
A lot more than timings
"At first, my goal was to run the course as fast as I could, but I soon came to realise that there is a lot more to this race than timings. The kids that line the streets just want a high five from runners passing by, whilst others are spotting and pointing out people dressed as superman, batman, the man in a tutu with wings.
"I wanted to give something back to these people, and this got me thinking. To celebrate my fifth Great North Run, I would run in fancy dress, but this gave me another challenge. What would my costume be?
"I asked myself one question, what do I want to achieve by dressing up? I need to raise as much money for CLIC Sargent as possible, as well as making people smile, whilst allowing everybody to be able to recognise my character. The solution was easy, Marge Simpson...doh!
"Once again, I will be running the 2017 Great North Run as Marge Simpson!"
Find out more
Registration for the Great North Run 2018 will open on 10 September. To find out more, please contact our Sports and Challenges team on 0845 602 4770 or email email@example.com