The National Lottery Anniversary Olympic Park Run Race Report

The National Lottery Anniversary Olympic Park Run is a 5 mile race around the Olympic village, finishing in the Olympic stadium, crossing the finishing line a year after Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and Ussain Bolt rose to Olympic glory!

There were 12,500 places up for grabs for todays race – a load were sold off on a first come, first served basis, then a load were offered out in a ballot.   I was quick off the mark, and managed to get my wife Sam and myself a place, and my mother-in-law Pat got a place too. I decided when we all entered the race that I’d run with Sam and Pat, so I wouldn’t be going for a specific time, as I’m a bit quicker than them.

Here’s a pic of the race pack, which turned up early last week:

Race pack

Race pack

Contents: race number, decent quality technical t-shirt, race guide, baggage tags, and spectator wrist bands – the race entry included 2 spectator passes, so we were able to bring the kids and my Mum and sister with us.

There had been a lot of panic over the weather in the week leading up to this race, as we’ve been enjoying a bit of a heatwave, with temperatures hitting 30c+ during the week.  I had ran on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday this week, so had some miles in the legs.  Monday and Tuesdays runs were at lunchtime, so I was out in the midday sun, so was acclimatised to the heat a bit.  Thankfully though, the forecast for this morning had been kind – cloudy and not too hot, with a bit of a breeze.

We had an early start – we had to leave the house at 6:30 to go off and get the train.  There were engineering works on the way down, so we had to get an early train to allow for delays.  A lot of people had the same idea – there were a lot of runners on the train, and as we approached the Olympic village, there were a sea of people wearing the blue t-shirts which were sent out with the race packs.

We got into the Olympic village nice and quickly.  When we were here last year when Sam did the first race at the Olympic stadium, security was really tight – bags were being x-rayed and searched thoroughly, so it was a bit of a faff.  This time thankfully, they were a bit more relaxed, bags were being checked, but they had a lot more security staff on hand to check people, so it was pretty slick.

In fact, the whole thing was very well organised – well marshalled, loads of toilets, and well thought out.  The organisers had erred on the side of caution with the weather too, and had brought in bottled water by the pallet load.  There was plenty of water to go around at the start, during the race, and at the end.

We sat in the stadium for a bit before the race.  Here’s a selfie of Sam and I – you can see the Orbit in the background.  I’d like to say this was intentional, but it was a happy accident that I didn’t notice until just now!

In the stadium

In the stadium

It was soon time to head off to the start.  We were all in the pink wave  – the last wave to start, and probably about 2 thirds towards the back of the wave, so there were  A LOT of people in front of us.  Unfortunately, a lot of these people were walkers, so a lot of people to try and get past.  I do think there ought to have been a walkers wave really.

After introducing the celebrity runners, Paula Radcliffe, Victoria Pendleton, Mel-C, the race was started at 10am by Olympic cyling legend Sir Chris Hoy.  The three waves ahead of us got set off, and then it was our turn – the pink wave.

It was an exciting start, but we were slow over the start line, and the course was very narrow at the start, so we slowed to a walk and a complete stop a few times, as there were bad bottlenecks, which was frustrating.  The first mile took us 12:56.

I was surprised and a little disappointed at how much of a building site the Olympic park was.  I know a lot of the structures were designed as temporary, but it does seem like a massive waste, and a shame that the buildings couldn’t have been reused.  The site does seem to be being stripped out.  I have no idea what the intentions are, but hopefully there will be a decent legacy left after the Olympics.

The field spread out a bit, and miles 2 and 3 passed without too many issues.  We did stop to walk a couple of times, and Sam had to stretch out, as she was struggling a bit.  There was a very nice mist shower on the course.  After this, the sun started to come out, and it was very hot in the sun.

After 4.5 miles, we turned to go down the tunnel into the stadium.  There was a lap in the stadium around the service tunnel, then the last 300m of the race was inside the stadium on the track.  This was definitely the highlight of the day.  As we came through the tunnel, Chariots of Fire was being played on a loop, which was fantastic!  It was a real thrill running around the stadium, and crossing the finishing line was pretty magical.

We left the stadium through another service tunnel, where we picked up our goody bags, which contained a nice medal, a pack of Belvita breakfast biscuits, a pack of pistachio nuts, a bag of crisps, foil blanket bottle of water and a few leaflets.

In the stadium

In the stadium

And here’s a close up picture of the medals:

Medals

Medals

And here’s a photo of Sam and I at the finish line:

Finishers

Finishers

All in all, it was a good day out.  The race was very well organised, and I think it was pretty good value.  Most of the race there were no supporters and very few marshals, but that didn’t matter, as there was such a lot of camaraderie and friendliness amongst the runners.

Would I do the race again?  No.  It was too busy, and too many bottlenecks.  I think if I was running on my own, and trying to get a decent time, I would find the volume of people and the bottlenecks very frustrating.  Also, it’s a bit “been there, done that” – I’ve experienced the race both as a spectator and as a runner.   The logistics of getting in and out of London aren’t great either – getting up early, and being hustled and bustled all day isn’t great.

I also think I’m losing a bit of love for races that are just runs – I’m enjoying the multi-sport aspect of triathlon so much more, that in comparison just running is a little bit dull.  That said, I would like to do another marathon.

Here are my numbers from today, not that it was anything about times today:

Official time:  01:05:52

59th in age group

6,431st man

11,214 finisher out of 11,839

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/345891776

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