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Great North Run 2021

“All top international athletes wake up in the morning feeling tired and go to bed feeling very tired.”

Brendan Foster

Are ya alreet, pet? If you are one of the unlucky ones who follows me on any kind of social media you may have seen I’ve been spamming A LOT about my run in GNR. I am not even sorry either. What went down in Greggsland was pure belta. Settle down, pour some gravy over ya chips, and get ready for another classic post of Will Bryan ramblings.

To Newcastle, sorry.


Right, after my lukewarm track season, I had 36 days to convert the anaerobic into the aerobic. The were a few phat sessions that helped me do this. Did my coach ease me into these after months of sharp stuff? If you’ve met Steve you will know the answer is no. Below I will outline a few key sessions that ballooned my lung capacity. The next bit is about the race if ya wanna skip this chapter

8x(1K off, 1K on)

This session… this bloody session. It was probably fundamental to my success; it wasn’t fun but it was very mental on many levels. I did this bad boy a grand total of 2 DAYS after my last track race. Time to sink or swim…

Target Paces: 82s a lap for the offs and 74s for the ons. If you do this session make the offs the correct pace. I didn’t… 7 reps in and I wanted die. No I wanted to die, be cremated, my ashes eaten by a dog and the poop buried so I was forgotten about. However, it made me mentally tougher than convincing a bouncer you’re sober after one pint (just me?) It also showed me that I can hold a decent pace even when running through treacle. I was happy.

10K Tempo

This was the first proper tempo I had done this side of track season. I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect but with just over 3 weeks to go to GNR with had to go get that dough.

Target Paces: 5:00 -> 4:55 per mile. Yes Steve, let’s run a 10K ‘tempo’ not far off my 10K PB pace. Makes complete sense 🙄. But as ever he was right; given it was 6:30am and solo I still managed 5:03 pace. Not too shabby in my opinion.

Track Session: 10K [3’/lap jog], 6K [3’/lap jog], 2 x 2K [3’/lap jog], 1K

A little over a week before the race. The penultimate level before taking on Bowser. Next% 2’s wear on, the cap was backwards and the vest off. I was ready.

Paces: 10K 32:26 (32:30 target ≈ marathon)
6K 18:38 (18:30 target ≈ HM)
2K 5:59.1, 5:59.5
1K 2:52.3

I was on cloud 8 after this session hoping that 9 was the next stop. The 10K felt super chilled which blew me away. How was I running 32:26 and feeling chilled? I know the 6K was off but if I’d smashed that too I’d be questioning if Linda McCartney had been spiking their sausages.

The Race


So before the race debrief I wanted to quickly give love to the people of Newcastle. On the train there I sent this text to my mum “Speaking to some random Gordie’s. A group of hungover 40 year olds in sunnies. One’s still drinking from last night to feel better. They have Greggs bags and one is covered in tomato sauce and baked beans. I’ve made it up north” – big love to Tessa Ravey who made the journey way better. Give her a shot if you see her on a night out!

Also, love to the lasses who were still on the sesh in the reception of my hotel Sunday morning whilst I was making my porridge pot with the communal hot water 😂 “You can’t be eating porridge, it’s the evening! Why are you eating porridge now?” – this was at 6:30am, they’re built different up there.

Eilish McColgan, Me and “The bloke with cool voice” (as referred to by my brother)


Surreal. In one word surreal. Even before the start of the race it all felt a bit mad. Ya boy was sat next to Galen Rupp in the elite tent and in sniffing distance of Ed Cheserek on the start line. Not bad for a guy who lost to Jim Davies at Eastleigh parkrun recently 😉

The course had a mahoosive downhill start, loads of fellas flew off and there was a real temptation to go with them. But I was way under pace so just stuck to my plan, praying they’d come back to me. They did. After 5K I was 30s down on the boys in the pic above. But I could feel them coming back to me so I didn’t panic and after a 2nd lonely 5K I was now 20s closer to the Scott Overall group.

Running on pure adrenaline (if you’ll pardon the pun), I caught them. Looking up I see Josh Griffiths ahead so that’s my next focus. I move through the group dragging Overall with me. “The race starts at 10miles, you feel good” played over and over in my head. 10 miles hit and I’m 50s under my PB from Great South. But crickey, the pain was different. Remember that 16K Fartlek from earlier? I did. I dug in deeper than Johnny Sins in his “movies”.

64:58. Nah, I still don’t believe it. I mean the time isn’t unreal relative to the top guys. But if the Will Bryan of 4 years ago who wanted to get on the sub-17 parkrun list knew that… I’ll be living off this race for the rest of my life. I’ll be that old bloke sat in the corner at Christmas telling the same story over and over. And quite frankly, I don’t care.

The Support

I’m not naming individuals as you know who you are xxx 😘. But I have been overwhelmed with the amount of people congratulating me and saying they’d seen my mug on TV.

My mug on the TV (thanks Dan Slayford)

If you’ve read to here I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! If you wouldn’t mind sharing it on your socials it would mean loads to me, and you can redeem a crisp high five from me if you do x

Will xx


2 thoughts on “Great North Run 2021

  1. Hi Will,

    I was e haunted reading about it but hope you have now re over Ed and are ready for the next big challenge! Great South Run next? We said we’d love to come a d watch you but Robert tells us we will have to stand for too long and the roads in and out of Portsmouth will be closed. We hope to see it on TV. Our photo has not yet arrived but do not expect it for a couple more weeks.

    Hope Ollie gets on OK today and am glad Robert is taking him. Ollie said he was feeling very nervous but that was to be expected.

    We send lots of love to you and cannot believe how much you have achieved and look forward to the next chapter.

    Though Eilish MacGolgan was a very stylish runner – reminded me of watching her mother many years ago. Brendon Foster hasn’t changed much only looks older – he too was a fantastic athlete and does a wonderful job with the Great North Run. Super photo.

    Lots of love from doting grandparents who have bored friends to death telling them about your race!! ❤️👫🏃🏻🏃🏻🏃🏻🏃🏻🏃🏻🏃🏻

    Sent from my iPad



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