Race Review: The Great Newham Run

The Great Newham Run Race Review or…

Finally something to shout about or….

Everybody Loves Paula….

I was one of the ambassadors for the Great Newham Run (née Anniversary Run or the Lottery Run) #backtothestadium. It came about after reading a tweet linking to an advertisement in Men’s Running and voila. I got the gig. Well, to be honest, I forgot about it completely so the free entry arriving in email was a bit of a surprise.
The gig involved writing three blog posts; one on training, one on preparation and one on the race day itself. This will become the basis of the last of the three, for which I was given free race entry, which I am actually very glad of as it was a great day, a tech t-shirt version of the one you were given at the end, and entry to the VIP lounge which meant kids, sandwiches and a great view of the stadium from on high, and for me included a great conversation with Great Run’s Tom Lavender and killing time before a #UKRUNCHAT tweet up.

The Race

I have run this race before in one of it’s pre marriage to Great Run guises but the stadium was closed for refurbishment which took away from the event the main reason for going. The Anniversary Run was only a 5 miler, and made up part of my 20 races in 6 months for Pancreatic Cancer UK was a hot one too. The course though, is pretty much the same, just with one VERY BIG difference.
Yes, the big difference, a small matter of the last 300 metres around this…
Running in the national stadium is so important to people that from my twitter alone I know of three people who can barely walk at the moment due to injuries but still wanted to be there, and still wanted the stadium finish, including ambassadors @KerryHarbord and @grimsbywargames .


Race Prep

Despite my training going well, and my race preparation and training blog posts proving this to me, I made the mistake of going out on the town Friday. Much alcohol was consumed and the subsequent Saturday morning Hampstead Heath Parkrun was my first ever DNF running. I was cramped up fully by KM 2 and walked 500 yards before quitting and walking home slowly. Maranoia took over and, well, let’s just say I was prepared for the worst on Sunday.
My OMM backpack had everything I needed to crampily walk the course, I had SKINS calf sleeves, Ibuprofen, Voltarol Gel but in the end, as the journey was a straight shot from Swiss Cottage to Stratford I had time to stretch, warm up, and didn’t even use the sleeves in the end. All this on a stomach filled with a peanut butter and strawberry jam topped bagel, tea, and lucozade (breakfast of champions).

How I did?

I have run this course before, albeit without the stadium finish, and knew of the hills around the park, and well remembered the roads from last year. There are plenty of ups and downs, although they are brief, but the whole route is very well paved, as it was redone for the Olympics 3 years ago so no uneven surfaces, no cobbles, and smooth concrete the whole way.
After the cramp and concern from the day before I focused on getting around, running consistently (which I did other than stopping for water at the only water table) and was very happy that I did. I was starting to worry that my training would all be in vain as I cramping and injury would set me back, but I was wrong.
I could have run it much faster, I could have skipped the water stop (the red bit when my pace dipped) but I needed the slight pause before the final push to the line.
Me pushing to the line
No way near a PB, but I was always adding that to any bravado I spouted online, and I am very happy with that given how I felt the day before.

Post Race

And this is where the fun starts… First I decided to make use of the VIP wrist band I”d been given as part of the race ambassador gig. I was, mistakenly, assuming this is where the VIPs would be, certainly the Mayor of Newham and Paula Radcliffe, who had started the race. But when I got up there it was mostly runners, a few Great Run employees and iced water. The tuna sandwiches would not be rolled out until I was leaving to meet up with the others. Still, I did have a nice long conversation with Great Run Local manager Tom Lavender about their new initiative to get people running and, of course, I got a chance for a stadium selfie with the bling. Got some #teamred love too from a random Great Run employee. All positive there.
It was hot
The Tweetup conversation had about a dozen names on it and, after catching up with Sam Baxter (of RNR Liverpool Tweet up fame) heading to the bag drop, I found out I was the only one at The Cow, 

I needn’t have worried because in the end I was able to meet up with a veritable gaggle of #ukrunchatters including @kennedy107 @NElsdon @_jen_mo and @baztav at the Cow and so the tweet up started, and continued, for pints… And then, eagle eyed girl in the group pointed out the one of only running legend Paula Radcliffe walking by, how could we not get a photo with her?
I did feel a little sorry for Paula as she wanted to get changed at the hotel and then leave, I am guessing. Still, John managed to get a selfie with her, and then, on her way back, not to be outdone, Baz Taverner did too. Wins all around. And then win plus when I got home and went to pick up my customary post-race cheese burger from GBK when I saw Bricktop from Snatch on Belsize Park.
In Summary:
The bling? Kind of average, but that is what you get from Great Run.
The event? Very well organised and with a pretty unique ending. Goodie bags, t-shirts x 2, lucozade, water, nuts, berries, granola bars. Are you paying attention British 10k??!!??
Would I recommend it? Yes, as long as the stadium finish is part of it. It had a totally different feel last year and I heard a rumour, what with West Ham moving in, that the stadium won’t be used for the race until 2017. I would check if you are planning to do it next year.
Would I run it again? Probably not. Twice is enough for this race, I did it with and without the stadium finish. I think I am done with Newham.
Battersea Park 5K, 9th August

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