TAUNTON Athletics Club and Running Forever member Hannah Taunton joined the elite to compete in Sunday’s Great North Run in Newcastle.

Having qualified as an elite participant with 36-minute runs at the Stoke Stampede and Easter Bunny 10k this year, Taunton was out on the half marathon course with Mo Farah and Mary Keitany, the respective winners of the elite men’s and elite women’s races.

Taunton, 26, was passed by Olympic hero Farah at the 10-mile mark, but she came home as 28th lady with a time of 1 hour 32 minutes.

As well as appearing live on BBC One – and being profiled as part of the broadcaster’s event coverage – she had the opportunity to meet both Farah and Keitany as the elite runners shared their post-race meal.

Despite the nerves of running in the world’s biggest half marathon, Taunton was helped by the well-wishes she received from Taunton AC, Running Forever and her friends at Longrun Meadow Parkrun.

Having had a couple of days to reflect on the race, she said: “I had an amazing time at the Great North Run.

“The day before the race I had a photo taken and was interviewed about why I was doing the race, and this appeared on TV during the race and also on the highlights programme.

“I was very excited beforehand but it was nerve-wracking at the start, surrounded by some of the best runners in the world.

“The course was tough and I felt so nervous at the start that I set off too fast.

“The cameras at the start and the motorbike ahead of us was not something I am used to.

“The crowds along the way were fantastic, as were the many bands who were playing.”

Her brush with stardom came 10 miles in, as Farah overtook her.

She said: “The strangest thing was when I heard a helicopter overhead and then a motorbike drawing alongside me, when Mo Farah overtook me at around 10-and-a-half miles.

“People were cheering for me and for Mo at the same time, which was amazing.

“I just refocused then and got on with running my own race.

“I finished about seven minutes behind Mo, with a time of 1:32:50, which was not a personal best, but I was thrilled to take part in my first race as an elite woman.”

Somerset County Gazette:

POSE: Hannah Taunton (left) with London Marathon winner Mary Keitany, who also won up north.

Not that the excitement of the day ended there, as she stayed in the company of the other top runners at the event.

“After the race I was privileged to have lunch with the other elite runners, including Mo and Mary, in the elite runners’ tent,” Taunton said.

“Then we all watched each other on the recording of the race – the beginning of elite women’s race, the elite men, the masses, and then Mo and Mary finishing – on a TV screen.

“I saw myself finishing the race on screen, just behind [BBC presenter] Gabby Logan.”

Taunton, who has a speaking disorder and learning difficulty, added: “I have had many struggles in my life but running has helped me achieve more than I ever thought possible.

“I hope my story will help others.

“It was a truly memorable experience, I have learned so much from it, and I hope to put these lessons into practice in the future.

“Thanks to my coaches and my friends who have sent me the most amazing messages of support, before and after the race – I can’t tell you how much it means to me.”

She won’t be resting up though, as she is taking part in the Taunton 10k next weekend (September 24), and she’s also set to take part in the Wellington Monument and Stoke Stampede races in December, both of which saw her come in as first lady last year.

Looking further ahead, she hopes to take part in a London Marathon in a few years’ time, but she will stick to shorter distances for now, as she looks to continue the progress that saw her shine last weekend.