Monday, 22 July 2013

Event Review : National Lottery Anniversary Run

Aw now come on, who wouldn’t want to run in the Olympic Park and finish in the Stadium where Mo Farah and Ussain Bolt ran? Thousands of people shared in my excitement and jammed the website in the effort to get one of around 12,500 places in this event. My mum and I were lucky enough to get in without going through the ballot system and had been looking forward to running around the newly named Queen Elizabeth Park, with some trepidation given the recent weather, for months.
The Orbit. You can see the park looks a bit industrial.
Our packs arrived about a week and a half in advance containing our technical t-shirts (size small but men's cut, so we were swimming in them), numbers, info packs and spectator wrist bands. We were both in the green wave which meant we didn't have to stress about where to seat my dad and whether one or other of us would be able to get into the seating area post-run. The information packs were quite informative and any questions were answered via twitter. For anyone not a runner looking for a time, the twitter feed could have been quite nerve-provoking, as there were a lot of re-tweets of people reporting training runs and expected times. Good for them but for those looking to enjoy the experience as a run not a race it could have left them worrying that they'd signed up to something beyond their capabilities. In the end there was a great mix of abilities and the atmosphere was one of excitement and friendliness.
That is Chris Hoy... honest!
Sunday came around and was gloriously overcast. Perfect running conditions. Our route to the park was mercifully easy being able to hop on the Jubilee line from North Greenwich. Once off the tube there were plenty of marshalls on hand to direct us and the security we'd been warned about was a cursory bag check. Toilets were plentiful, concessions stands provided sustenance for spectators and getting a seat in the stadium was straightforward. The marshalls could have been briefed slightly better on the layout of the stadium as we were sent the long way round to the start but we got there in the end. There was a warm up, which we missed but generally the start area was organised well and we were underway only a couple of minutes later than expected. Runners were set off in waves according to ability (we were in the third of four waves, green) by the great Chris Hoy, of whom I managed to take a snap on the way through.
Couldn't resist taking a snap of this.
The route took us around the park, much of which is under development so not much to look at, doubling back on itself in a few places which allowed us to high five runners coming the other way. There were a few inclines but nothing to be concerned about. A couple of points early on where the route narrowed and caused bottlenecks that brought us to a momentary halt but that said it didn't affect the atmosphere and it was still a great run. There were loos en route, as well as a well stocked water station and a mist shower.
It was hot but the atmosphere was electric.
The miles ticked by quite quickly and soon we were running through the tunnel under the stadium to the sounds of Chariots of Fire anticipating the moment we emerged onto the track where so many great athletes had run before. I'll never forget that moment. The sun finally broke through the cloud and I had to hold myself back so as not to sprint off and leave mum. We managed to spot my dad in the stands and we held hands as we ran over the finish line to the sounds of string quartet Bond playing on stage... truly incredible, unforgettable experience, and a real achievement for my mum with a brand new PB.
Unforgettable experience
It was crowded on the other side of the finish line but that was to be expected. We moved, slowly, back under the stadium to collect our goody bags containing a hefty medal, water, pistachios, biscuits, crisps, heel balm and foil blanket. Finding dad afterwards was easy thanks to the colour zoning and numbered blocks. We could have stayed and listened to more bands but decided to meander homewards, our route back towards the tube again lined with marshalls. The tube wasn't particularly crowded despite the volume of people and so all in all it was a very enjoyable experience, which I felt was worth the entry fee.
We did it! We was there!
Pros: easy to get to, good entertainment, amazing finish, decent goody bag and hefty medal, loads of loos
Cons: no female cut shirts, warm up not repeated for people not in the first wave, route a little dull and narrow in places, not all marshalls briefed sufficiently.

Obviously this won't be held in quite the same circumstances again but I would consider entering again if it were, and running for a time. It was an incredible experience and I'm still getting goosebumps thinking about running on the track now...

Did you take part? What did you think of the organisation and the route? Did you run for a time or for fun?


  1. I'd agree with most of your comments, on the whole it was pretty well organised but the course layout was a big disappointment being mostly within a building site, being in the red section at the front there were obviously more serious runners aiming for a time but the narrowness of the course in places was bordering on dangerous!

    1. Thanks for your comment Ian. Given that even back in the green section we were brought to a standstill on some sections and people were tripping over each other, I can only imagine what it was like up front. Hope you still got a time you were happy with.