Living within commuting distance of one of the world’s most iconic and renovated sporting venues, it was a no-brainer to sign-up for the Great Newham London Run; a 10km race promising runners a scenic run through the heart of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with a finish in the stadium itself! I signed-up for this event in March, and it was highly anticipated. Having achieved a PB in the Bupa London 10,000 in May (37:08), I was really looking forward to another 10km run.
Unfortunately, I suffered a massive ulcerative colitis flare-up at the end of May, and my running had no doubt been impacted as a result. Having only been discharged from hospital less than 3 weeks ago, I was in two minds about whether or not to run this event. I have only been running very short distances since the end of May (weekly mileage from 10-20km/week), as I have slowly been tapering down with medications. Seeing a steady improvement in my health and slowly increasing my training, I decided to run this event, with a sub-40 goal in mind.
I took the 8:06 train from Chigwell, leaving me with plenty of time to reach Stratford for the 9:30 start. Arriving in the race village, I was disappointed to be unable to locate the water station (which was promised to be there before the run). Even the marshals did not know anything about this. I managed to grab a Lucozade Sport instead, and engaged in a gentle warm-up and some dynamic stretches.
I headed and entered the race pens at 9:20am, having a pre-race chat with fellow ELR members Ciaran Canavan and Alex Day. The race started 10 minutes behind schedule at 9:40am. It was a fast start, with the club wave taking off. The sun was also out in full force, too! I felt reasonably comfortable for the first 5km, but after that the lack of water, sun and undulations made the run feel progressively more difficult. The route was wavey, with undulations followed by declines, and with very little shade throughout, I knew the final 5kms were not going to be easy. Some respite was found in the single water station and sprinkler on the course. Crowd support was fairly scarce (I suspect they were all in the stadium!) and the village was generally quiet, however there were some good cheering points with some crowd support, notably charities.
I continued to power through, trying to keep each lap at <4min/km, however some of the undulations made this challenging. The highlight of the run was entering the Olympic Stadium and finally reaching the final 300 metres of the track. The crowds were amazing here, and seeing my name (alongside other runner’s names) on the big screen as we entered the stadium was very cool indeed! I pushed hard for this final stretch and enjoyed the moment, raising my arms to the crowds before unleashing a quick finish. I crossed the finish line in 39:54, getting that sub-40 I had intended to.
I briefly caught up with some fellow ELR runners after the run as we collected our goody bags, which contained our medals and finishers T-shirt (alongside water, Lucozade and some edibles). Conclusively, the event could have been a little better organised with more water stations. The epic stadium finish was the highlight of this run, and suffice to say, it lived up to my expectations. Would I do this run again? Definitely. Due to the undulations, I wouldn’t recommend it for a PB though, but one can still get a decent time and enjoy the uplifting Olympic-style finish! On a personal note I am very satisfied with my performance today, given my recent ill health and lack of training. The aim now is to keep mentally strong and gradually increase my milage back to ~70km/week. I probably won’t be breaking any new PBs in 2015, but am looking forward to maintaining my fitness and enjoying my next major upcoming event, the Richmond Running Festival Half Marathon in September (although will be doing some smaller events/Park Runs before this).