Greg inspired by beloved uncle

A former Observer journalist is invoking the spirit of rugby league great Mike Gregory to complete the Great North Run.

Thursday, 31st August 2017, 5:20 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 11:59 am
Greg Farrimond (left) and his uncle Mike Gregory
Greg Farrimond (left) and his uncle Mike Gregory

Greg Farrimond, who is originally from Standish Lower Ground, will tackle the famed Newcastle half-marathon to mark the 10th anniversary of the former Wigan Warriors coach and Warrington RLFC legend’s death.

The 28-year-old is Mike’s nephew and has many fond memories of growing up as the loose forward racked up cup final medals and was named Great Britain captain for their tour of New Zealand.

He died aged 43 from progressive muscular atrophy, a form of motor neurone disease, in November 2007, leaving wife Erica and sons Sam and Ben and an unrivalled legacy in the game.

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Back in 2011 Greg took part in the Great North Run but struggled around the course due to a nagging knee injury.

Greg, who now works in communications in London for Onside Youth Zones, said: “In true Mike Gregory fashion, I’m back to get it done properly.

“To some a half-marathon is very little, to others it seems impossible.

“For me it’s always been the latter and the mental block of what happened last time has made me doubt myself but I’m determined to do it and do it well.”

The run, over 13.1 miles, will take place on Sunday, September 10, and is set to be televised by the BBC.

He added: “Mike was my mum’s brother and I looked up to him on so many levels.

“Of course, being a huge sports, and in particular rugby league, fan, and him being a superstar in his sport was something I loved as a youngster.

“But it was the man he was that I have learned most from. Mike was humble, caring and the most genuine human being you could wish to meet.

“Even as he was in the most pain you could imagine, when talking was a million times harder for him than this half-marathon will be for me, he would always make sure he asked how other people were before they could ask him.

“He was a gentleman and in the 3,650 days or so he’s been gone, there hasn’t been a single one where he hasn’t been missed.”

Before his passing, Mike was supposed to be pushed around the Great North Run course but had to withdraw through illness, resulting in Greg’s determination to cross the finishing line in his honour.

Greg, who has also previously climbed Ben Nevis for charity, has set up a fundraising page on the Just Giving site, in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, and he has already raised more than £1,200.