The big day finally arrived and it became quite clear that this race – the Great Newham London Run 10K sponsored by Morrisons – was important to a lot of people. After last year, when the stadium was closed for refurbishment, the desire for that stadium finish following in the footsteps of Paula Radcliffe and Mo Farah, was driving everyone on. In my Twitter circle alone I knew of three people who were injured and could not run but were determined to limp their way to the finish.
The day started early for me! Two hours before the start to be precise, with my pre-race breakfast of a toasted bagel with peanut butter, banana and jam, cup of tea and a pint of water.
It was supposed to be a hot one and the correct advice from the race organisers was to stay hydrated and dress for the weather. I took more water with me, Lucozade and Jelly Babies! I also took a spare t-shirt (the Great Run series tee I was given as ambassador) and some Pump It Up! After all, I was going to visit the VIP Hospitality area of the stadium and I didn’t want to meet any of the running celebs or the Mayor of Newham smelling like I had just run a race.
Half hour on the jubilee line later and I found myself part of a huge crowd trying to get out of the turnstiles at Stratford station. Everyone was arriving for the race and the tube station wasn’t ready for the numbers. People decided to use the nice shiny (and clean) toilets in the Westfield Centre rather than the portaloos at the race village, and the seats around the shopping mall were taken up by runners squeezing in some last minute rest.
The pre-race was fun; walking past the Aquatics Centre, seeing people take photos outside the stadium and the ArcelorMittal Orbit. The runners village included all you would expect from any race of this size, a bag drop, charity tents, food stands, and we were all marshalled very well for our warm up, and then to the start of the race in our corrals.
The Race Itself
It was hot, and people were surprised at the undulations in the course. Having run there before I knew about the on and off ramps for the roads around the stadium, and that the bridges and tunnels around the Olympic park can be a little challenging. However, these had been recently paved and so felt good on the feet. There was a very welcome runners shower at 6K, shortly before the water station, and we all partook and headed toward our common goal. Me? I had endured a disastrous Park Run in Hampstead Heath the day before, cramping up after a couple of kilometres and I was determined the run the whole way, music pumping me toward the big stadium finish.
And that’s how it happened, after circling the stadium for three quarters of an hour we looped back and down into the bowels of the stadium to the sound of pre-recorded cheering mixed with Chariots of Fire. That last tunnel seemed to go on forever, and then we were out into the cool Olympic stadium, with families and friends in the stands cheering and onto the spongiest of surfaces.
Now, I have run on an Olympic stadium track before, at the Amsterdam half, and was looking forward to the bounce: It was wonderful, and even allowed me to sprint for the line (something I rarely do), finishing a great race, one I highly recommend to everyone.
Being very active on Twitter and part of the #ukrunchat community there is always a ‘tweet up’, and this year was no exception. It was great, after the high of the race, to meet up with Natasha, Baz, John and Jenni, catch up about the race and other race plans, and swap war stories.
And then, arguably the cherry on top of the icing on the cake, we spotted Paula Radcliffe walking by and I managed, on a day running at the greatest stadium in the land, to get my photo with one of its finest athletes.
Great day all round.