I’m not sure where to start with this blog, running inside the Olympic Stadium is already starting to feel like a dream. Luckily I have some photos that show I really did run on the Olympic track, the same track that Mo, Jess and Usain et al. run on last summer. After missing out on a place in this run last year, and after like most of the population missing out on tickets for the 2012 Games I was really excited.
Following the guidance in the race information pack I arrived at the venue early, and I mean *really* early. Rather than it taking me hours to get through security it took me less than a minute. The security took one look at me and waved me through without checking the contents of my SiS Marathon belt. I had never worn the belt before yesterday and found it quite irritating having the bag flapping around my stomach. Never wear untested kit on race days…
As I was 1.5 hours early there were no queues for the ample toilets. Bonus marks for a running event having real toilets. It’s a shame that the toilets didn’t seem to flush properly, apparently there were some issues with the toilets later on. I had a quick peak inside the Stadium and took some photos, to be honest there was little atmosphere as the Stadium was virtually empty. Luckily this changed later on in the morning.
As I was on my lonesome it was quite tricky getting a decent self-portrait. Thanks to the dreaded London hay fever I wasn’t feeling 100% yesterday, I think this photo shows…I must remember to get my hair sorted out when I get back from China! I then strolled up to the start line and spotted my first celebrity/Olympian of the day, Victoria Pendleton.I noticed that Miss Pendleton had made the sensible decision of not wearing the official race tee-shirt. Incidentally the other celebs and the vast majority of runners did opt for the official blue tee-shirts. I gather that it made “runner spotting” tricky for the spectators.
After a warm-up, and 7 minutes after the red wave runners started, the white wave runners were dispatched. It was immediately obvious that this wasn’t going to be a P.B. race. The course was quite narrow in places, there were loads of bottlenecks in the first mile. It didn’t take too long to catch up with some of the faster (?) runners in the red wave as quite a few were walking within the first mile. Next year if I get a place in this event I’ll be predicting a much faster time.
The route itself was ‘interesting’ and we ended up running over grass, concrete, rubble, sand, tarmac. At the end of the day the vast majority of the Olympic Park is currently a building site, hopefully next year the route will be vastly improved. As a hydrologist, one of the highlights of the run was the opportunity to have a close look at the River Lea. I was disappointed in the improvements; just how bad was the river before?After stopping to take this photo (so much for running all of the 5 miles) I realised that that we were finally heading back towards the Olympic Stadium, and what would be the highlight of the event. We ran through a tunnel underneath the Stadium, I wasn’t so keen on this part……but the final 300m on the track more than made up for the scary, hot tunnel. I had already decided that I wasn’t going to “sprint” the final 300m, so I took several photos and savoured the moment.As I approached the finish line I spotted the official race photographers and struck a Jess Ennis, arms raised in the air type pose. Unfortunately, we were herded away from the finish area quite quickly. We queued for over 5-minutes for our goody bags and a much needed bottle of water in another hot tunnel/underground area. This was the low point of the race, I think we could have done with either another water station on the course or a bottle of water in the finish area. The goody bag itself was the pretty standard selection of healthy snacks, foil blanket and random skincare product.Feeling more than a little on the jealous side, I stood and watched some of the runners from the later waves head into the Stadium. I then decided to make my escape, one of the downsides to travelling to races alone is the lack of people to chat to afterwards. I also had loads of studying and presentation preparation I wanted to get done for China. I had an enjoyable trip back on the Jubilee line to Baker Street (apologies to the other passengers) got back to my room and promptly fell asleep for four hours. So much for the studying!
The official race photos were released earlier today. Although some of the photos of me are slightly less offensive than normal, if I want to purchase them I’ll have to take on a second job.So, would I recommend this race? YES!!