Having watched British hero Jonnie Peacock storm to 100m gold at the World Para-athletics Championships yesterday, I was inspired to right up my own recent experience of running on that very track.
Clockwise from left: The iconic London Stadium in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; my finisher T-shirt and accompanying bling; the last outing for these shoes, only fair they went out in style!
Sunday July 2 was my third time running the Great Run Newham London 10k and the lure of running on the track in the London Stadium, just like my Olympic heroes, never seems to fade. Added to that, it was a really beautiful sunny day with a clear blue sky and cycling down the River Lee Navigation to get there was a perfect warm up.
After locking my bike up next to the Aquatics Centre – another of my favourite Olympic buildings – I joined the happy throng of people heading towards the start line, with a quick diversion to the ever glamourous portaloos where, amazingly, there was no queue. I think outside of the brilliant Liverpool marathon, this is the only time that has happened! The flipside of that is it’s always a place where you can have a good chat with fellow runners so I sort of oddly missed the queueing.
I then found myself a place inside the correct wave and joined in the warm up, it amused me to note that the guy leading it effectively told a few people off for not joining in and warned that they’d regret it later. He didn’t call it a warm up but, I might not have remembered this right, a mobilisation, which I think is a good thing, a series of dynamic stretches to raise the heart rate and activate the muscles.
The mayor of Newham and the fabulous Jo Pavey said a few words and we were off into the scorching sunshine as the time hit 10.30am. The route was slightly different to previous years, but it didn’t matter to me, I love the whole of the Olympic Park so exploring any of it is a treat.
It is an essentially flat course with no hills, although there are a few inclines, but I enjoy them, pacing up, then using gravity to pick up speed on the descent. The best bit for this is the cycle track round the velodrome, not only are there a few ups and downs, but the super smooth track is a joy to run on. (Note to self: go back with your bike).
It was a hot day and the water stations couldn’t come soon enough. I’d arrived pretty well hydrated, but knew that I’d be ready for some extra. I always carry water on a 10k training run and have usually finished 500ml by 8.5k, although I do try to pace myself to match where the water stations would usually be in a race. We were told the water would be at about 4.5k and 7.5k and I was really ready for it by those points, as well as the showers around 4k too.
I don’t remember there being lots of supporters on the course, but then everything tends to become a bit of a blur as I run so there might have been loads! I did see my husband and kids twice though and found myself whooping, was fairly relieved too as they’d completely missed me on my last two races, one due to my husband’s useless sense of direction and the other with me being faster than they’d thought!
The music was fun, the drums and steel pans and seemed fitting for the weather somehow. I never listen to music when I run so while I did enjoy it, I was pretty glad it wasn’t all the way round, as I enjoy listening to all the feet on the road and the different sounds of outside.
The time went by pretty quickly and before I knew it I was on the training track outside the stadium which is lovely to run on. Then into the stadium itself. Excitement building. Although slightly dampened by running round what feels like the bowels of the stadium. But then it’s all worth it when you emerge out onto the track, not just any old track, but THE TRACK! Where Olympic dreams came true.
This year, we only got to run the final 100m on the track rather than 300m in previous years, so it was a bit “blink and you’ll miss it”, but nonetheless, still wonderful. I ran a sub-50 too, for the first time in a while as my rehabilitation continues, so I was really happy with that too. Then off to reunite with the family and show off the new bling and the T-shirt.
All in all, it was indeed a Great Run and I will definitely be back next year, hopefully reliving the memories of this year’s successful para athletes and athletes at the World Championships as I follow their footsteps down the track.