I was already entered in the Frome Half Marathon for 21 July but when the chance came along to run five miles around the Olympic Park (albeit mid conversion to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park) and finish on the track in the Olympic stadium I couldn’t really miss the chance! Anyone who knows me well (and to be honest if you know me vaguely you would have had to ignore me for the last few years) knows how obsessive I am about the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. I refuse to stop going on about how much I enjoyed it and any opportunity to be back there somehow I’ll take!
The day before the run I delivered a talk about my London 2012 experience in my home town, Frome, which was originally arranged around my half marathon entry. I then headed straight to London ready for the big day. The plan had been, in training, to target my fastest ever 5 mile time – pre race standing at 32:19 (I think!). I had two free spectator tickets for the stadium as well and invited my cousin, Sandra (of marathon spectator fame) and Aunt Val (of accommodation for the London 2012 fame). In fact, my Aunt finally got the chance to enter the Olympic Stadium that had played host to me for 5 weeks of 2012 as she played host to me in between and had been drawn into the euphoria of it all.
The race was started by Sir Chris Hoy with Victoria Pendleton and Paula Radcliffe running as well. 5,000 of us had been packed into the park to run in four waves around a fairly narrow course in places, taking in the Velodrome, media hub, Orbit before the stadium finale. The problem with the tight lanes and 5,000 runners was no hope of a fast run (Unless I’d literally been at the front!). As we went through the first mile I’d already take 7 minutes 30 seconds so had lost 1 minute 20 seconds and unless I broke the 6 minute mile four miles in a row wasn’t going to achieve m target 31 minutes. Plus I was still not in a position to up my pace enough to even have a chance of getting it to a sub PB target. However, I still went as well as I could on a warm summer’s morning.
I had also taken my phone with me – which I never do running – so I could take pictures on route of the never to be repeated opportunity. Running around the venue I’d spent the most amazing nights of my life was such a great experience, especially as we entered the under part of the stadium where the performers officials and athletes had entered during the games and ceremonies, and as we ran under the stadium we had Chariots of Fire playing with Steve Cram’s infamous commentary of Mo’s Farah’s 5,000 metres gold relaying. That in itself gets me on edge, so as we entered the stadium onto the track with 300 metres to go time was no longer the concern but soaking up this once in a lifetime chance to follow in the footsteps/tyre tracks of Mo Farah, David weir, Hannah Cockcroft, Jess Ennis, Jonnie Peacock and many more. The camera was held aloft as I pictured the view from the track as I ran round – it wasn’t quite as loud as when Mo and the likes hurtled round, but it was still a moment to behold.
I crossed the line in about 35 minutes – as i hot 100 metres to go Paula Radcliffe was running the opposite way hi-fiving us – and I made sure I hi-fived her (My supporting icon). Russell finished not far behind me, also lapping up every moment. This run wasn’t about speed but about the legacy of the games and the opportunity to experience the stadium – the first race on the track since Oscar Pistorious won the T44 400m gold on the last Saturday of the Paralympics.
I joined Sandra, Aunt Val, Jackie, Rachel and Jackie’s parents (and Russell!) in the seating as we cheered in the other runners and Jackie and Rachel took their turn in the fun run. Jackie had performed in the stadium during the NHS scene of the Olympics Opening ceremony so also had fond memories and Sandra and Val loved being there. (Not sure they loved my guided tour of what i did where etc!).
After the Anniversary games a week later the stadium will now be converted for football and therefore it will never be the same as it was for the summer of 2012. This really had been a once in a lifetime chance to run on the track that was a centre piece of that summer and of something that has had an unbelievably huge impact on my life. Whilst a track will still remain, it won’t be the same as being there in the stadium as we grew to love it. I carry on not just running but doing sport and massively inspired by what happened in London and beyond in 2012 and will never grow ashamed of the excitement it causes me to break into. It’s inspiring me and I hope it’s somehow inspired or will inspire you!
National Lottery Olympic Park 5 mile Run July 2013
With less than 100 metres to go Lucas sprints for the finish in lane 8!
Val and Sandra as they arrive at the Olympic Stadium for the first time
Back at the stairs where I spent the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games 2012
Russ and Lucas await the starting gun
Views on the run, Velodrome, Stadium & orbit..
...and into the tunnel under the stadium (blurry and my finger due to running at the same time!)
A runners view of the track entering the Olympic Stadium with 300 metres to go.
With Val and Sandra afterwards inside the stadium
Clan Lowe - Jackie, Russell and Rachel soaking up the atmosphere afterwards