The Lord Mayor of Newcastle has run the final mile of the Great North Run barefoot in support of the Catholic aid agency Cafod.
Lord Mayor Geoff O’Brien took part in the race for the first time with his own team of five, who raised money for the Lord Mayor’s charities, Cafod, NSPCC and Islamic Relief. One member of his team was Cafod volunteer and renowned “barefoot runner” John McBride.
John, a council worker from Consett, has run the last mile of the last three Great North Runs barefoot to raise money for Cafod. He challenged the Lord Mayor to join him in taking off his trainers for the final stretch as an act of solidarity with the people in developing countries for whom shoes are a luxury and who will benefit from the Lord Mayor’s running feat.
The two barefoot runners joined a total of 75 Cafod runners who completed the world’s most famous half-marathon from Newcastle to South Shields on Sunday, alongside 54,000 others in a mixture of sunshine and torrential rain.
Cafod’s events manager Kit Lewis said: “Our runners really did us proud this year, taking on this gruelling course as well as raising thousands of pounds for Cafod. We had family teams, pub teams, couples, individuals who had driven hundreds of miles just to take part, first timers and Peter Smith, from St Joseph’s parish in Jarrow, who completed his 30th Great North Run, which is incredible.”
John’s voluntary work for Cafod last year took him to Nairobi in Kenya, where he met many of the poor children and families which his fundraising efforts have helped to benefit.
John said: “I’ve had a whole year to reflect on my trip to Kenya and the inspiring people I met there whose lives are a daily struggle but who are so full of dignity, love and hope. I found the race very emotional this year – the communities I met in Kenya were in my heart keeping me going with me every painful step.
The Lord Mayor said: “After hearing John’s stories from Kenya I couldn’t say no to his barefoot challenge. I’m in so much pain but I think the pain in my feet takes away the pain in my legs. One of the wonderful things about the Great North Run is seeing so many thousands of people running on behalf of
those less fortunate. It’s fantastic.”