Published on: 17 September 2020

Heart specialist Dr Mickey Jachuck will set off on Sunday (September 13th) for his first Great North Run – from his doorstep.

Dr Jachuck is among a number of South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust staff who will join the thousands of people worldwide taking part in the Virtual Great North Run on the day the 40th staging of the half-marathon was scheduled to take place.

The physical event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, to be replaced with GNR Reimagined, a virtual running campaign including Great North Run Solo and the 'official' Virtual Great North Run. Great North Run Solo started on June 28th, the anniversary of the first ever run. The challenge is to complete 40 runs at any pace and distance in the 78 days until September 13th. Over 20,000 people have signed up, helping to raise over £200,000 for the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal. For runners on the big day, an app will provide a virtual experience with audio clips of iconic sounds from the event, such as the roar of the crowd and the Red Arrows fly-past.

Consultant Cardiologist Dr Jachuck’s previous involvement with the Great North Run has been through his job as a doctor, as part of the medical team on standby on the day at South Tyneside District Hospital, which is on John Reid Road, South Shields   - regarded by many as the hardest stretch of the course. 

Dr Jachuck said “I was born and brought up in Newcastle and I have worked on GNR race day a few times so I know what a great atmosphere there is and have often been tempted to do the run but just never thought I was capable of doing it.

“I was a complete non-runner until about a year ago. As a consultant cardiologist, I spend a lot of my time telling patients about the benefits of regular exercise but I became aware that I wasn’t following my own advice. I decided to do something about it and started doing the ‘couch to 5k’ running plan last year. I surprised myself by sticking with it and continuing to run after I had completed it. I found that going out for a run two or three times a week was really helping my mental and physical well being - I felt better and lost weight.

“Over the past few months, as a clinical director for Cardiology and Respiratory Medicine, I’ve been heavily involved with the planning and delivery of our Trust’s response to COVID-19. With everything that’s been going on, I’ve really appreciated the downtime and having half an hour every few days to relax and unwind and de-stress when out for a run. It’s certainly helped me cope with the challenges we’ve faced at work. For everyone in lockdown, I think it’s been important to use the opportunity to get outdoors and get a bit of regular exercise whenever possible.

“As I was really enjoying my running, and after managing a few longer runs, I decided to bite the bullet and enter the GNR 2020, running for the British Heart Foundation. It was, obviously, really disappointing but understandable that this year’s run was cancelled. I did wonder what to do instead to help maintain my running but the GNR Solo and Virtual GNR have been great - giving me motivation and something to aim for, whilst raising some money for NHS Charities and also our own South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust charity. I’ve done over 250km in total so far and I’m looking forward to doing my first ever half marathon as part of the virtual run but still really looking forward to experiencing my first ever proper GNR in 2021.”

The Trust’s Director of Communications, Liz Davies, will also be tackling the 13.1-mile distance on Sunday. She will be running in memory of her niece, Ivy Margaret Davies, to raise money for 4Louis and for the Trust’s charity.

4Louis was there for her brother, Mike, and his wife, Kat, when their daughter was stillborn in November 2019. The charity was established to support families through miscarriage, stillbirth and child loss and provides memory boxes for bereaved parents.

Liz, who lives in Durham, said: “Without 4Louis, my family wouldn’t have the memories that we have. They gave my brother and his wife the chance to keep things such as hand and footprints – things you wouldn’t think of in those moments of grief but which they will cherish forever.”

Liz, who has also covered 100 miles in GNR Solo runs in aid of the Trust’s own charity, added: “Even though things are a little different this year, I still wanted to get involved and raise money for two charities which are very close to my heart. The Great North Run is part of the fabric of South Tyneside and, by raising money for the Trust charity, I wanted to say thank you to all my frontline colleagues for everything they have done and continue to do during COVID-19.”

Husband and wife, Jon and Sam Scott, have already completed the GRN Solo challenge, running 300 miles each in the course of 40 runs. Now, they are looking forward to the main event on Sunday.

Jon is a consultant stroke physician and Sam is a matron with South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust.

Sam said: “Neither Jon nor I had done the Great North Run for a number of years but it was on my 50th birthday bucket list this year and we were both going to prove that we could still do it in our 50s. We’d also put on a few pounds over lockdown and wanted to get fitter, generally, and the GNR Solo challenge has really helped us to do that. Obviously, it will be different on Sunday without the crowds but I can’t wait to tick that half marathon off my list.”

If you are interested in supporting South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust’s charitable fund go to

To support the Davies family’s fundraising for 4Louis go to:

  • Sam and Jon Scott

    Sam and Jon Scott

  • Dr Mickey Jachuck

    Dr Mickey Jachuck

  • Liz Davies

    Liz Davies