How did this all come about?
My friend and bass player Deon Krishnan and I have been writing songs together for about two years. The normal process is that I’ll write lyrics and the melody, and he adds the music and the magic, but for this particular song he was driving to the Lake District with his family and just got this melody in his head. He recorded it on his phone, sent it to me and said: ‘Can you put words to it? I want it to be a Geordie folk song.’ My friend from school, Helen Watson, lost her dad to prostate cancer last year. At the funeral, we were all talking, and Helen said: ‘I’d never do the Great North Run’. I said: ‘Let’s do it for your dad.’ I did regret that in the morning.
What happened next?
When I started the training and I heard all the stories about why people are running, it really inspired me to find the words to this song me and Deon were writing.
How long did it take to record?
A couple of weeks because we had to keep going back to the studio to get people on. Deon really wanted the sound of the Northumbrian pipes. The pipes that Andrew Davidson is playing are quite special. They’re made on the banks of the Tyne, were the first set of small pipes with two chromatic octaves, and have never been changed since. When he went to buy them, he got interviewed. One of the conditions was they weren’t to go into a museum; they were to be played. They’re over 200 years old, so they’re quite special.
The goal in producing the song is to raise money for a good cause.
Yes: I just want to raise as much money for Prostate Cancer UK as possible. I’m hoping to get as many downloads as I can so I can give the charity as much money as possible.
When did you start training for the race?
I started in January, but it seems like so far back: we were doing three miles here and there. Then I would run along the coastline at Seahouses on holiday, but it wasn’t a regular thing, so we had to really nail down in the last few weeks. I’m aching a bit, but no pain, no gain.
You’re running with Helen as well. Does she still think it’s a good idea?
I think she’s worrying about it more than I am. She keeps saying: ‘Come on, we’re not taking this seriously.’ I think we are worried about the run, to be honest.
Apart from your own song, what music do you run to?
I’ve got a playlist of all the songs I need to learn for gigs I’ve got coming up. It’s got everything from Katherine Jenkins to The Style Council. If anybody listened to my playlist, they’d think I was crazy.
Have you spoken to anyone who has done the run before?
Yes: there’s a guy called Ray Scott and he’s famous in the Great North Run world, because he’s done it every year since 1981. He drinks near me, and I ended up chatting to him about training. He starts at the front because he’s done it every year. He said I was doing okay at eight miles so far. He said don’t stop afterwards, too. Make sure it’s regular. He also said the audience – the crowd, I mean, I’m in gig mode – will keep you going.
Anna Reay, along with 57,000 others, is running the Great North Run on 10 September in support of Prostate Cancer UK. Her song, Sun Sets on Tyne, can be downloaded from iTunes, with all proceeds going to charity.