This morning I took part in the National Lottery Anniversary Run and was one of the first people to ‘go back to the stadium’. This race sold out very quickly and there’s been a huge buzz about it on Twitter and Facebook so as I made my way to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this morning I was really quite excited,
But you know what? If I felt like being critical then there were lots of things that I could nit pick about this race. If I wanted to I could complain about the ridiculously large T-shirts that we were sent to wear. I customized mine by inelegantly lopping off the arms and creating a V-neck – who wants to run in sleeves and a high neckline in a heat wave?
I could moan about the fact that with 45mins still to go until the start time the women’s toilets were blocked and close to overflowing.
I could be disappointed that most of the route around the Olympic Park now looks like a building site, because frankly – it is. Or that the course wasn’t wide enough for the number of people taking part meaning that the first two miles were full of stops and starts as people made their way through bottlenecks.
I could suggest that one water stop, placed before 2 miles on a 5mile course that’s being run in 25oC with no shade wasn’t adequate. Or that having to wait for a good ten minutes after finishing before being given any water was a bit rubbish too.
But you know what, I’m not going to complain about any of that. Because the fact is the last half mile of the race may be the best half mile of any race I’ve ever run. Running down the path to go underneath the stadium where the athletes waiting for the opening and closing ceremony gave me goose bumps.
Running under the stadium to the sounds of Chariots of Fire was amazing. But turning the corner and running into the Olympic Stadium itself may well turn out to be one of the highlights of my running career. The noise from the crowd was fantastic and the hairs on the back of my neck were standing up. I actually felt a bit sick with excitement, or it might have been the heat by that point.
I waved madly at the crowd, hoping that Mr J might somehow spot me and get a photo – and he did!
That’s me at the back of that group of runners!
Sprinting down the last 100m was such a fantastic experience, thinking about all the inspirational athletes that had run on that track last summer, and here was me doing the same thing.
As I crossed the finish line all my critical thoughts about the race disappeared. What a fantastic experience. I’d have paid the entry fee just to run that last half a mile. Simply brilliant.
But take note National Lottery – you’re going to have to up your game if you’re intending on making that a yearly race. There’s a awful lot of room for improvement!
I do love a stadium finish and this has got to be one of the best! Well done on your race and your honest report. K x
Thanks. I really wanted to do a Write This Run inspired piece of doodling for this post but that’s going to take me some practice 😉
I agree with all of your logistical points…a crap race in terms of all of that…but geez, the last 300 meters more than made up for it. Check out my race report http://thefatgirlsguidetorunning.com/2013/07/21/back-to-the-stadium/
Great race recap – must have been all the more special having been involved in the Games. Which running club do you run with?
Great recap as always Becca. Great “tailoring” job on the top too!
I had a totally different experience pre-race and found there were so many toilets I almost wanted to keep going just because I could! Such a pre-race luxury! Guess it depended on what side of the stadium you started. We were around the corner so not many spectators made their way over.
Hopefully TNLAR is listening and improves the run next year because with a few tweeks it will be a highlight on everyone’s race calendar.
When’s your next run?
Thanks Laura. I obviously chose the wrong toilet block – right by the Orbit. They weren’t pleasant. I agree that with some tweaks this could be great and I’d definitely do it again.
The next thing I have planned is another obstacle race in October. The Major Series http://www.majorseries.com/events/midlands. Not quite as hardcore as Tough Mudder but it looks like fun!
How about you?
Look at you all tough! It’s off to Iceland for me for the Reyjkavik half! We’re staying at your amazingly recommended penthouse. Can’t wait!
Oh brilliant – hope you have a great time and enjoy the apartment. It’s lovely.
Sounds like a great experience Becca – but it also sounds like the significance of the venue and the atmosphere saved the TNLAR’s bacon.
Spot on Peter. If that had been any other race without the last half a mile to save it it would be been pretty terrible!
What a fantastic experience. What runner wouldn’t jump at the chance to run at the Olympic stadium, great read too! Hope TNLAR learn for next time.
I really hope so. Some of the things that needed improvement would be very easy to fix. I’d love to see it being an annual thing – running into the stadium was just fantastic and I’d love to do it again.