OK the technical T-shirts were at least a size too large, the course was too narrow in places and the Olympic Park was a building site, but these minor irritations could not prevent this from being a very special run. I had been in the Olympic Park a few times last year, and in the Stadium for the final evening of the Paralympic Athletics, watching Oscar P while he was still someone to look up to.
I arrived much too early, more than an hour before the start, and while dropping off my bag I bumped into a former teaching colleague (much younger so should have been much faster than me). After locating the start I took off in the opposite direction for a 20 minutes warm up run; amazingly very others were not doing this, large numbers were already at the start. I was still in the pen 15 minutes before the gun/horn. Lots of people clutching bottles of water. I did find all of the warnings about keeping hydrated a bit over the top, to be honest a water station at 2 miles wasn’t really necessary; I kept well out of the way of it . After all it was only 5 miles. But accepting that many (a majority?) of the runners were first timers, maybe it was a sensible health and safety requirement.
I was in the red starting zone, I assume because I had suggested a time of 40 minutes which did seem quite reasonable. As soon as we started it was clear some to the red zone starters had massively over-estimated (or rather under-estimated) their time; it became more obvious after a mile or so that after having being caught up in the moment, it suddenly became considerably further than a number had bargained on. But that didn’t matter, all that was important was all 11,000+ were giving it a go whether first timers, or aging veterans.
The culmination was, of course, entering the Olympic Stadium (after what seemed like a age running round the ‘tunnel’ inside/under the stadium). I’m sure I wasn’t individually being cheered, but the noise still provided a lift and getting on a track like nothing I had ever stepped on before was very special. I wasn’t one of those that stopped at the beginning of the 100m straight in order to do the sprint, I just made sure I had a bit of space to go over the line. So it was now a matter of collecting the medal, visiting the bag drop. The latter could/should have been better organised. Being one of the first 10% to finish I still had to queue for 15 minutes. I suspect later finishes would have been in the queue longer than they were running for.
If they do it again next year you should do it, but unfortunately the stadium if being is being downgraded, reducing the size considerably so it can be used for football. Shame!