Great North Run 2018 – Alison & Toni Q&A

Recently, Recite Me team members Alison Wilson and Toni Rayner took part in this year’s Great North Run on Sunday 9th September. The run is the largest half marathon in the world which takes place between Newcastle upon Tyne and South Shields. This year’s runners included Olly Murs, Ross Noble and Mo Farah… as well as our very own Alison & Toni!

Together, Alison and Toni raised over £700 for the Charlie Cookson Foundation. We sat down with Alison & Toni to get their thoughts on the big day.

Alison and Toni, congratulations on completing the Great North Run! How was the experience?

Toni: “This was my fifth GNR and definitely my best. I had my heart set on a time and was focused.”

Alison: “It was my first GNR. Toni has done loads and I blame her for getting me into this! It was an amazing day, the whole atmosphere, event organisation, everything was just awesome. I’ll be honest I found it harder than I had hoped, but I never stopped, I became a run/walker towards the end.”

How did your training go?

Alison: “Training? Ah that’s what you’re supposed to do! It could have been better, I get easily distracted and pass on nights I’m supposed to run. Especially when it’s dark and cold.”

Toni: “Very well! This is the first time I have trained solo as I’ve always trained with others in the past. I was determined to go for my personal best this year so I decided to undertake the training on my own.”

What kind of songs would we find on your running playlist? Any favorites that get you through hard runs?

Toni: “Nothing gets you through a half marathon like The Greatest Showman playlist!”

Alison: “Well I had my playlist sorted but for whatever reason, it wouldn’t work on the day!! But I had some cheeky 80’s tunes and a bit of AC/DC at the ready.”

Any memorable moments from the day?

Toni: “The crowds were amazing. I think the people handing out ice pops and beer saved the day. Overall, my favorite moment was seeing my little boy cheering me on at the 12-mile mark.”

Alison: “Memorable would have to be the man carrying a kayak – I thought he was going to overtake me so that gave me a push to go a bit harder. Also, all the people being pushed in wheelchairs, such commitment and passion, the GNR brings out the best in so many people. My favourite moment has to be running through the finish line like I was Zola Budd! Now that’s me showing my age!”

Tell us more about the Charlie Cookson Foundation for those who don’t know. What do they do?

Toni: “The Charlie Cookson Foundation provides financial support to the parents of seriously ill children with life-limiting conditions who require 24-hour nursing care or specialist nursing facilities.

The Foundation raises awareness of the difficulties faced by parents and carers who care for seriously ill children and strives to improve the quality of life of sick and seriously ill children by providing information, advice and support.

They have established strong working relationships with professionals working in local hospitals to ensure that the needs and wishes of parents, carers and children are heard and considered.”

What made you both decide to run for the Charlie Cookson Foundation?

Toni: “I have a personal connection to the charity through a family member who is now the events manager there. I am lucky enough to know Chris and Sarah (Charlie’s parents) personally and am often involved with fundraisers they do. The next one I will be attending is their annual charity ball in October.”

Alison: “Toni introduced me to the CCF, and I just loved what they do for families. Anything to do with children always pulls at my heartstrings. I’m very pleased (and proud) that I’ve managed to support them by doing my first GNR.”

Any advice for anyone who’s interested in doing the Great North Run?

Toni: “Train, Train and Train! It will honestly help make it easier if you can get some miles on your legs so you your body isn’t shocked by what you are putting it through.”

Alison: “Train, don’t give up, and most importantly enjoy the day. It really is amazing to be part of.”

And finally… same again next year?!

Alison: “If you had asked me 30 seconds after crossing the line I would have said no way, but now that I’ve just bought a Garmin looks like I’m sticking with the running thing after all.”

Toni: “Definitely! I’m aiming for under two hours next year.”

Congratulations again to Alison and Toni for such a huge achievement. To find out more about the Charlie Cookson Foundation, including Charlie’s own story, visit

To donate to Toni’s fundraising fund, visit

Related Content