I very nearly didn’t make it to the start line, having managed to both catch a cold and injure my back in the days before the race. Plenty of rest and Lemsip and I was just about ready, although I vowed to take it relatively easy.
5k: £20 or £25 with £5 donation to Mo Farah Foundation. 10k: £25 or £30 with £5 donation to Mo Farah Foundation.
Race entry was pretty straightforward online. With plenty of email reminders on the week of the race, it was pretty hard to miss any of the major race details.
The 5k took place at 9am, while the 10k was split into two races. The ‘elite’ run, for people aiming to finish in 55 mins or under, was at 10am. The ‘mass’ run for everyone else was at 11am. This was fine for me as I was running alone and grateful for the lie-in, but I imagine it was rather annoying if your partner/friend/family member was faster/slower than you and participating in a completely different race.
Splitting the races worked well in terms of thinning the crowds – picking up my number and dropping my baggage off took no time at all – but it was a little surreal walking to the start against a crowd of finishers.
I must praise the toilets-to-runners ratio. Compared to the ridiculous queues at the Great Newham Run in the same location last year, these loos were a dream (and well-stocked with loo roll too).
In terms of speed, this hasn’t been a great year for me running-wise. For various reasons I haven’t been able to put the training in, doing just enough to get me through. As a result, there have been no PBs for me this year, and haven’t managed a 10k in under an hour. So add in a back so painful I could barely move on Friday, plus a cold and general feeling of sluggishness, I wasn’t expecting miracles on Sunday. Getting round was the aim.
Despite splitting the 10k into two races, the first km or so was still quite congested. A lot of the route was fairly narrow, which made things a little tricky at times. There was a friendly atmosphere though, so there wasn’t the frustration I’ve seen at some other races.
The course itself is two laps around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which is a little dreary on a drizzly December day. Even the sight of the Olympic Stadium wasn’t quite enough to inspire me! While I was managing to broadly manage 6 minute kms, I was feeling sluggish and found myself switching off while running. At the 5k point I realised I was just over 30mins, so a sub-1 hour race was still theoretically possible if I didn’t slack off.
With the painkillers wearing off my back was started to ache, so I decided to try and push on but remain comfortable. At 8k I was just below where I needed to be, but by 9k I had dipped a lot and had to do my fastest km of the race to finish sub-60 mins. I decided to go for it, thinking I might at least beat my fastest 10k. Bizarrely, there was a water stop about 200 metres from the end. Ignoring it, I powered through to the end. I was well above the hour on the clock, but according to my watch I could still make it under an hour. As I crossed the line I thought I had done it, but would have to wait for my chip time to confirm it.
After grabbing my medal and t-shirt I tried to take an obligatory picture with the Olympic Stadium and Orbit in the background, but was struggling in selfie mode. Thankfully a nice man dressed as Iron Man helped me out!
In the end the chip times weren’t published until the evening, which was a little frustrating, but I was delighted to see my chip time was 59:45. Might have left it a little late, but I’d finally managed to get back under 60 mins for a 10k in 2015. Next year I’ll be targeting a new PB.
Ah, the bling. To be honest this had been my main incentive to actually get to the start line! A very hefty medal featuring the Olympic Stadium and a Santa doing the Mobot. Finishers also received a technical t-shirt featuring the Mo Farah Foundation logo on the front, with the Mobot Santa race logo on the back.
Nice bling, although not the most thrilling route and not nearly as atmospheric as the Great Newham Run. I might be tempted to do it again next year, but probably only in fancy dress with a group of friends!