Great Newham/London 10k and Great North 10k
As I always say, anything with Great in front of it automatically means at least double the price of a normal event. However in this case for me, being an athletics fan it was worth paying £32 to finish on the track in the Olympic Stadium and £27 to finish on the track in the Gateshead stadium.
First off was the Great Newham run on Sunday 2nd July. I had in fact done this race last year but decided to do it again for four reasons. Firstly I had expected to be able to obtain some good photos of the race but never found any (where were you Dave?) Secondly it was a chance to visit and stay with my brother just outside London. Thirdly I was disappointed with my time although it was very hot and we were advised not to go for PB’s and just to enjoy it (shades of parkrun it’s not a race etc). Finally I just love the stadium having volunteered there for a couple of rugby league games and attended many athletics events and will also be there in August for the athletics.
The course starts by the Orbit and goes all round the Olympic Park passing the Aquatic Centre Copper Box Arena and Velodrome before running onto the warm up/practise track outside the stadium. There then follows about 300 metres in the bowels of the stadium before emerging on to the track inside the stadium for the final 100 metres to the finish line. Surprisingly it is a slightly undulating course.
Again it was a very hot day and before the start we had the same speel about PB’s etc. Jo Pavey and Brendon Foster set us off and I lined myself up on their side ready to give a high 5 but they were set back out of reach. Last year I had managed to high 5 Christine Ohuruogu at the start. I was in the first of four waves to set off, although not sure how I managed this, but I did give a correct estimated finish time. Although there were hundreds of runners setting off at the same time, there seemed to be plenty of room for everyone and no holdups or bottlenecks occurred. I felt quite good and maintained a steady pace of just over 8 minute miles making use of the two water stations and also a shower spray.
The highlight of course was running into the stadium for the sprint to the finish. My time was 51.42 which was a 4.20 minute improvement on last year. I also took my phone with me to capture some photos before and after the race but this time the official photographers did ‘get me’. So all in all a successful and enjoyable race.
One week later and I am camping just south of Gateshead ready for the Great North 10k. A visit to the open air Beamish museum on the Saturday (well recommended) took all day. Sunday 9th July the day of the race, I was going to use the park and ride and then get out the bike and cycle on to the Gateshead Stadium. However, I changed my mind and decided to put on my tourist hat and try out the Metro which stops near the stadium.
The course starts by the stadium and makes its way down to the River Tyne passing the Sage Gateshead and under various bridges including the iconic Tyne bridge, before turning back at roughly 5k going the same way back, up to about the 8k mark. Obviously the roads are closed for the event and so the road is split into two so that you are passing runners on the way out and back. At 8k the course detours and makes its way back to the stadium, up the locally named Slog on the Tyne before entering the running track in the stadium for the last 1200 metres to the finish line. Definitely fairly undulating.
Another hot day although with a little cloud at times and this time I am in the third wave to set off. This was noticeably slower than last week, with some people obviously being a little optimistic with their estimated finishing times, particularly the man that started walking before the 1k sign! As the run progressed there became more space and I settled into the run. Only one water station this time which I did not stop at and a shower supplied by a fire engine crew! The Slog on the Tyne which I had been warned about, was fairly steep but did not last too long and there were some magnificent views of the Tyne from it. Then on to the stadium and the softer surface of the running track which felt good after pounding the roads and the finish by the best stand, although not as impressive as last week of course.
I finished with a time of 52.33 which I was fairly happy with as it is not a PB course. So the wait goes on to achieve my holy grail of the sub 50 10k, although I knew it would not happen at these two races, but I think it will happen sooner than later. I must say that I am always proud to pull on the red vest for all these events and also that any Great run or swim event is always well organised and enjoyable to participate in.