The Force is with Harrogate’s Luke O’Connor on the Great North Run

8 September 2014

Luke O’Connor from Harrogate completed the Great North Run on Sunday 7 September 2014, and in the process raised hundreds of pounds for the British Red Cross.

Luke. aged 28, was one of 30 Yorkshire men and women running to raise money for the work of the Red Cross and he has so far raised over £400.

Luke completed the course in 2½ hours and said: Two friends of mine inspired me, Jodie Peary and Lou Varlow (see pic attached), having started from scratch a few years back and completing the Great North Run that year. At the time I said they were nuts having seen them run round Harrogate almost every night I said I’d never achieve that level of fitness or commitment. But…back in April at their insistence I decided to go for it and make this my big achievement for the year.

As it was going to be a genuine challenge for me I thought it would be a great opportunity to raise money for a worthy cause, and I picked the Red Cross. They do amazing humanitarian work here and abroad, highlighted all the more by conflicts and disasters erupting around the globe of late. Knowing my endurance and commitment would change and save lives is a massive boost when the last thing you want to do after a long day is a practice run or your legs feel like lead on the day.

The day itself is just bonkers fun a huge sense of achievement. I can see why some running purists complain about it (e.g. over crowding) and it’s certainly not a day to smash out a PB, but what other race in the world could I compete with Mo Farah, have a Red Arrows fly past, overtake a man carrying a fridge and Batman & Robin and be cheered on by crowds offering sweets, oranges, sausage rolls and encouragement all the way round! Sadly Mo pipped me to the post (by 19,000 places) but the local crowds and waiting events team in the Red Cross tent made my day.

Now I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt (and the medal!) it’s onwards and upwards. I’m joining my local club Harrogate Harriers to spur me on to a sub 2 hour half marathon and maybe even London Marathon in 2016..?

Over 150 men and women ran for the Red Cross, including a team of 30 from all parts of Yorkshire. The Yorkshire contingent all finished and raised a fantastic £12,000.

Senior Community Fundraiser for the Red Cross in Yorkshire, Max Newton, said: We are so grateful for Luke and for all our runners who entered the race. We are so grateful for all those miles run in training, all those soakings in the rain, all those evenings out missed (or spent sober), and for all the hard running on the day.
The money Luke and his fellow runners raise will enable the Red Cross to help people whose lives have been devastated by crises and disasters, both overseas and right here in the UK.

The Red Cross has places on the 2015 event and registration is now open at or contact Max Newton on 0114 242 7379 or The entry fee is just £49 with a £300 sponsorship target.

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