I have raced the London parks plenty of times and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park is no exception. It was here that the National Lottery Anniversary Run was held sans stadium finish, and then the Great Newham 10k that did. The Hackney Half went through the park too, taking the bridges and canal paths around the cafe and the stadium. So ordinarily I would not have entertained going back, not in this crazy year of “going long” if it hadn’t been for one thing, or rather two, the visit of Canadian runner Alana Bonner and her husband Ryan. Alana was here just for the holiday period, they were staying in Stratford, and she wanted to race. It was, therefore, a no brainer and we ended up signing up for the Race Organiser First Saturday of the month 10K around QEOP.
Now Alana is a short distance specialist, running over 50 races over the course of the year, getting a lot of podium finishes in Montreal over 5 and 10K with a 44 minute PB that is a good 10 minutes faster than my usual 10K bimble of about 56 (my PB is still only 52:14 as I do like a good amble) so we were not going to be running together per se, just in the same race for the first, and hopefully not the last, time.
This was a loop-da-loop starting by the ArcelorMittal Orbit (big red rollercoaster looking non-rollercoaster) at the cafe and going around and around the mini islands and across the bridges that make up QEOP. Three laps in fact. The course does have a few little hills but nothing to write home about and a few bridges, I think you cross two, maybe three. And the running surfaces are modern, as the QEOP is barely 4 years old.
How I did?
I really wanted to push myself but have been out for too long post Berlin. My Petts Wood and Cambridge Town and Gown and Greenwich 10K times (all comfy 56 minutes) were pretty indicative of how I was going to do, especially in the wet and after a fast 11K training run yesterday.
I did jog around, I took water at the water table twice, including once when I missed the cup, stopped and walked back. I walked drinking both cups of water. They were the only times I did walk though and I did take my foot off the gas for chunks of the run so I was happy with 54:05 given the ease. I know the sub 50 aim will be met this year if that is anything to go by.
Obligatory Race Photo
Ryan did take photos on the way around, and acted as bagman for both Alana and I, which was sweet. I think I need a Race Day Ryan, maybe it could be a business venture.
I was actually worried as they did not give the medals out at the end. I had one of those “Noooooooooo!” moments. My friend is running her first race in my home country, in my home town and there is no bling. Fortunately a nice marshal then told us the goody bags and medals were upstairs at the bag drop. I am glad we asked.
Bespoke and for the series, I got a red one and Alana got a green one. I am happy with that given the lack of bling at the New Years Day Serpentine run last year.
This is an East London run on a good surface around the Olympic Park in the shadow of the stadium. It is easy to get to on the Jubilee and Central lines and you have Westfield Shopping centre for food after. The marshals were supportive and there was a medal and goody bag as well as the chip timing and t-shirt options (Alana gained another fluorescent pink one to add to her collection).
Would I run it again? Probably not.
Would I recommend it? As an alternative to Parkrun with a long distance and bling, then sure.