The countdown to the one millionth finisher in the world’s biggest half marathon came to a fitting conclusion with an unsuspecting local heroine crossing the finish line and stepping into the history books at the end of the 2014 Bupa Great North Run at South Shields.
Tracey Cramond had just one concern when she set off from home in Darlington early on Sunday morning. “All I was thinking about was getting to the start line in time because of all of the road closures,” she confessed.
A 51-year-old grandmother who works as a buyer for the NHS and who was running to raise money for Butterwick Hospice in Stockton, Tracey gave little thought to the prospect of becoming the millionth finisher in the 33-year history of the Great North Run.
“I was aware that there was going to be a millionth finisher this year,” she said, “but, probably like everyone else who ran today, I didn’t for one minute expect that it would be me.
“I’m just very proud that I could be the millionth Great North Run, that I’m representing the 999,999 who have gone before.
“I’m just a local girl from Darlington. I have two grown up children and two grandchildren. I would expect that my family will know about it now.”
As soon as she was identified as the one in a million, Tracey was rushed to meet Great North Run founder and chairman Brendan Foster and Lord Sebastian Coe, vice president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, to receive a special million runner gold medal.
“I ran last year for my mum, who passed away in the June, and I was running this year for the Butterwick Hospice in Stockton, a charity that do amazing work for local people and for people outside the area,” she said. “They have a superb children’s hospice.”
In becoming the millionth finisher, Tracey followed another north-easterner into the history books, Tynesider Mike McLeod who won the first Great North Run in 1981.