This is the second time I am doing this event. I did it previously in 2016 with my Dad to experience the Olympic Stadium finish – and what a finish it was.
The blog from 2016 is here -> https://bigcarlrunning.com/2016/07/19/race-review-great-newham-10k/
Overall, I enjoyed the experience but there were things to iron out from an organisation point let’s say.
I’d have enjoyed it even more if the weather wasn’t stupidly hot and they’d have avoided some of the inclines (not really hills) that stopped you in your rhythm around the park. However seein the forecast it seemed like it was going to be another warm one.
The route stays wholly within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and in the final 2k takes in the warm up track, the inside service corridor (actually one of my favourite parts) and the Olympic Stadium track itself.
However, I was a little let down this year that we only ran down the final 100m of the track – running a lap was what made this race great last year, but then again you don’t get to run down the last 100m of an Olympic track every race!
As above, this year they’ve changed the route slightly – for the better I think as it hopefully avoids some of the bottlenecks caused by the tight turns and switchbacks near the start last year.
We entered this one as soon as it opened to take advantage of the early-bird offer and it is fairly reasonably priced £20-something when you look at some of the other 10k races around, at similar times, in a very similar city, with similar number of people, I am really going to miss the free yoga though – not mentioning any names of course.
I guess the advantage with Newham is that they only have to close two roads from what I can think of and it isn’t in Central London.
I was Pink wave (again), I hate the pink wave – I have nothing that goes with that colour and Dad was in Green. But this did mean is that our start time was 11.27 – over an hour after the first wave set off.
Ok, I get it, some people will be travelling from quite a distance away so I get that for them it’s an advantage. However, running at midday, in the middle of summer and for the slowest two waves of the event – not great planning. The course isn’t huge but it doesn’t need such big separation between the waves – 5mins between each would be adequate. Also it made it feel like there are two separate races– one for the quicker people and one for the slower peeps – in my opinion it takes something away from the experience.
The bag drop had been split into two locations (on the lawn for White and Green wave, by the stadium for Pink and Orange) and this was sooooo much better. Last year the baggage was on the other side of the field, we couldn’t even spot it when we first arrived and it was a really good walk once you’ve finished and climbed the steps out of the stadium.
However, it was a little small and you basically managed where you put your bag yourself and security was a minimum. Actually the security was two ladies at each entrance checking the number on your bag matched the bib number as you left the baggage pen – I don’t know how they coped at busier times. It felt very unsecured as anyone could’ve slipped their hand in your bag as they were open to everyone – please change this Great Run!
Anyway, we dug our 2016 kit out – I had to do a little test run in my shorts as I haven’t worn them since last year and they were at risk of, well, showing more than people would appreciate mid-run. Test run done and shorts stayed in position – to the delight of everyone at the event. I did bring spare shorts with me, however, I didn’t spot any changing facilities it should I have required them – I guess a tight squeeze in a portaloo might have sufficed. Toilet queue was non-existant – when has that ever happened before?, even for the ladies there was no queue.
We got in the pen and I took my SiS Caffeine shot which I use for most races now (I prefer the Cola version), had a sip of water and bumped into one of my favourite running bloggers Angela Duff (@Duffrunning). We had a lovely chat and then it was time for the off.
As with most races I let everyone go and soon was at the back of my wave – I told myself and Dad that I really wasn’t bothered and we’d pick people off as we go along.
So, plan for today – I’d chatted with Michelle Thursday and she recommended trying to do it as a progressive run, to keep it interesting and to ensure I set off slow enough and that drove my plan for the race:
A) Finish strong and feel generally better than London 10,000
B) Progressive (each mile quicker than the last)
C) Negative Splits (second half quicker than first)
D) Run most of it
E) PB (not out of the question but tough after all the miles lately)
F) Run all the way (done 4.5miles non-stop but didn’t think this was the race to do it)
My aim for the progressive splits were to start at 14:10 per mile and drop to 13:50 at the end, but I just could not slow down enough to get under 14 m/m at the beginning, even up the hill. So I took to walking, I wanted to feel strong and run well all the way to the finish, going off too quick wasn’t going to enable me to do that. Everyone had left us behind and I could tell Dad was concerned but I just told him my plan and I needed to slow it down a bit.
To be honest the first 3km flew by and then 4k and on the corner sat a steel band, you’re thinking ooh lovely aren’t you, don’t. When I said they were ‘sat’ they really were. Sat, on their phones chatting to each other and not hitting a single steel thing – rather disappointing when it was only a bit of a lull in the wave and another two waves would be coming along shortly behind.
We entered into the cyclopark circuit at the 5km point and was fairly pleased with 44:37, did a bit of calculating in my head and figured if I could keep up the same pace or better it I’d get under 1:30, which is always my target for 10k as I shouldn’t be going over that time unless it’s particularly difficult course. I’d dropped a bit of time on the inclines but I was determined to get negative splits at least.
The cyclopark is not easy to run around, it’s really lumpy – how people do half marathons around there without going crazy I do not know. I was walking the ups and running downs and flats, I showed my dad where I flew off my bike in February and at 6km I knew we were heading home.
I started to struggle after 8k and the warm up track couldn’t come into view soon enough, but it was one constant blind corner and seemed to take forever. I was determined to run the track and Dad was leaving me behind a bit, knowing he was trying to drag me along, but I was having none of it.
One of my favourite sections of the 2016 race was running round the service corridor inside the stadium, it’s grey, it’s dark, cooler than outside and pretty uninspiring. Only last year they had Chariots of Fire and Seb Coe commenting on Mo Farah’s victories in 2012 – it made me well up. This year – some dodgy 90’s dance/trace music – let’s just say it didn’t have the same effect, if anything it made me run quicker to get away from it.
400 metres to go, 200 metres to go, where the heck is this turn into the stadium – and literally you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and wow, we were only doing the last 100 metres but it was still awesome. The crowd were a bit, quiet so I did what I could to get them cheering along and they did get behind us.
Dad said “are you going yet or saving it until we’re closer”, “what do you mean, I AM going” – lols.
I did pick the feet up and I was certain I was sprinting like Usain Bolt and I was assured I’d get a flying feet pic – alas upon review of the race pics, I look more like a tortoise gone out for a Sunday stroll.
The finish was a delight, I didn’t spot a photographer to have a finish line pic together but we wound our way around the finish line and out to collect our goody bags.
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have my medal hung around my neck, there’s something special about it – a moment to treasure, not just given to me in a drawstring bag with a bottle of water, Kind bar and enough leaflets I won’t read to keep the amazon forest alive and a nice tee that they still had in XL and fitted pretty well to be fair.
Post-race was the climb up the stairs – I mean come on that is not fair then a bit of a trek back to gather our bag and then another trek back to enter the stadium to find some seats and relax and take selfies.
The seating in the stadium was much better as we were directly opposite the finish line and we stuck around with Katie (@itskatiefam) and cheered every last runner home – it was fantastic to see the Backpackers of the race mustering that sprint finish, even if it was for 10 metres.
A) Finish strong and feel generally better than London 10,000 – Hard not to feel worse than London 10,000, and felt good, so tick!
B) Progressive (each mile quicker than the last) – nope, hills/inclines screwed me on this one
C) Negative Splits (second half quicker than first) – yup, by 5 seconds
D) Run most of it – most it yes, as much as I wanted to run it – not really, again, hills screwed me over
F) Run all the way (done 4.5miles non-stop but didn’t think this was the race to do it) – haha nope
I finished in 1:29:19, a whole 10 minutes quicker than London 10,000, two and a half minutes quicker than Newham last year and two minutes off my PB from Brighton.
I was overall happy with my performance, I ran well and ran strong and had something left at the end. It was warm, nearing ‘hot’ so it shouldn’t have been a day for chasing PB’s, the inclines are pretty steep and really stop you in your tracks and I am in the middle of marathon training – I certainly wouldn’t have done 8 miles on Friday and 18miles over the week if wasn’t in marathon training mode. Overall it was, well a pretty average run from me – it pops in pretty much in the middle of my 10k times this year, wasn’t great, wasn’t awful, just….done.
Would I do it again? – I don’t really have any need to, I’ve done it twice now, medals are decent but aren’t a series like London 10,000. There is talk of a Katzenjammer team run & of course I wouldn’t miss that
Would I recommend – absolutely! To finish on the track – even 100m is so worth it & it’s a great experience!