The Simplyhealth Great North Run - a veterinary perspective

Posted by Katrina on 24/09/2018

“Most amazing weekend, absolutely brilliant! The staff were really, really good and had thought of everything. Safety pins for the numbers….just everything. We were dropped off at the start and got to do our warm up with Mo Farrah in the VIP area. Wow!”


That was the view of Liesbeth, a vet from Westport vets in Linlithgow who had an allocated place at the Simplyhealth Great North Run, courtesy of Simplyhealth Professionals. She knows what she’s talking about when it comes to marathons and half-marathons, having taking part in around 20 – we caught up with her before she left for Chicago to run there. Completing the Great North Run in 1 hour 41 minutes she says she was happy with her time and had a totally unique experience.


Leisbeth was one of 28 vets and vet nurses taking part in the Simplyhealth Great North Run, a half marathon held in Newcastle in September 2018. Simplyhealth Professionals supports vets and RVNs from practices that use its preventive healthcare plans to take part in the various Simplyhealth Great Runs which include the Great South Run and Great Runs in Birmingham, Bristol and Manchester. This year around 90 places were reserved for veterinary runners who want to take part and enjoy a VIP experience. 


The Westport team included RVN Abi Newton of Westport Vets in South Queensferry and veterinary surgeon Gillian, also from the Linlithgow branch. Abi says they all had a very special experience, “It was just brilliant. The Simplyhealth staff are all so friendly and helpful and all the facilities were just amazing. It was well organised and there was an excellent atmosphere. My time was about half an hour under what I was aiming for as it was so hot but I’d like to do it all again next year.”


Holmefield Veterinary Clinic in Selby sent a team of five to the event – three vets, a receptionist and the practice manager, Helen McHugh, who said they had a fantastic weekend, “We were so well looked after. We were driven to the starting line while our partners enjoyed the hospitality. When we arrived we were all really nervous but we were able to take the edge off by celebrity spotting and had selfies taken with Olly Murs and Dame Kelly Holmes. We all ran together as a team and took it steady which meant we didn’t have a fast time but we just had a great day out. The organisation and support on race day was incredible and made it truly enjoyable. When we got to the end we were given a massage, which was brilliant. We’ve already been saying we’d all love to do it again next year!”


Justin Phillips, Marketing Director for Whitecross Vets says he and his family also enjoyed the experience, “My family and I had a truly fantastic time in Newcastle over the weekend. We were so well looked after and had loads and loads of fun.”


He was aiming to complete the course in an ambitious 90 minutes and hit the mark, “I can’t walk today much to the amusement of my colleagues in the office but the important thing being I did it in 1hr 30 minutes.”


Justin says they also enjoyed celebrity spotting at the event and saw Sir Mo Farrah, Gabby Logan, Brendan Foster, Peanut from the Kaiser Chiefs, Ross Noble and many more.


Sally Clarke, Director of Vets at Simplyhealth Professionals says her teams love to work together to ensure that their VIP runners enjoy an excellent experience, “It’s great to see people of all abilities taking part and we enjoy hosting them – whether they are serious runners or just want to have a fun and healthy day out. We’re keen to support practices, not just to help them run their businesses more efficiently but to give something back to the veterinary community.“


An impressive 96% of runners supported by Simplyhealth Professionals report their overall experience to be ‘excellent’.  There is lots of information available about the Great Run series on which helps non-runners prepare for the event, as well as sharing tips for experienced runners. Any veterinary staff interested in having an allocated registration at any of the Great Run events should speak to their Simplyhealth Professionals Business Development Consultant.