Saturday, 31 March 2012

I'm an Olympic Medallist

1) I have run a race in the Olympic Stadium
2) I was given a medal for that race.
If this does not make me an Olympic medallist, I don't know what does. And at least when I do 100 metres along the running track, I've done 4.9 miles before hand, not like that Usain Bolt flash in the pan!

Many months ago I entered a ballot to run in the Olympic Stadium. From 40,000 entrants, myself and 4,999 where chosen.

I met the first chosen others on the tube, when three ladies from up north called out "hello Olympic Runner". They were the Goalden Girls, a group of over 50s who had not run before and were about to do their first marathon. After a fun tube ride with them., I knew it was going to be a great day.

I brought my friends Lyla and Makmid with me, and their new little addition, Amira. We had a bit of a queue but I think meeting at 1130 meant we were missing the worst of it. Amira didn't look very pleased especially as part of the queuing process meant snaking around the Westfield Shopping Mall and then being rushed across a road. Her presence meant we got access to the VIP security lane (also the accessibility lane, which you couldn't fit a wheelchair down) and got through pretty quickly, unlike Makmid who had to remove nearly every item of clothing. The Group 4 Security staff were our first contact with Olympic staff, which is enough to make you shudder, but they had clearly employed lots of people from BME backgrounds who seemed incredibly happy and friendly to mask their evil corporate image. Political rant over.

Once suitably frisked we were in front of the Stadium where every runner started throwing Usain Bolt poses and having photos. It was bitterly cold and windy and I wished for more layers and definitely running gloves! The stadium felt quite small inside and as some of the seating was still being completed, it felt quite empty with only 15,000 people in it.

I went to meet Andy (@noynek) on the start line, trying to figure which bridge corner was near the Aquatic Centre. That's typical engineer directions that! I eventually found him (for twitter interested folk, he looks just like his twitter pic only nicer!) We huddled in a pack of pink people - the last wave to start and full of people with the right attitude - those wanting to take photos, have fun and remember the day - not those necessarily chasing a PB. We huddled in that pack for an awfully long time and had a real laugh trying to do a series of warm up exercises when we couldn't see the instructor and we had no room to move!

When we finally crossed the start line it was carnage as there was so many runners but somehow Andy and I managed to stay together. The route was around the Olympic Park so we managed to see a lot of the buildings, either finished or close to. Andy's company had done some work in this field so I also got to learn a bit about the buildings and work out which was which, thank god for civil engineers!

It was weird that there were no spectators, but a few well placed bands helped keep the mood bouyant. Any workers who were on gate duty came to the side lines and gave us spirited cheers which was sweet. Otherwise we waved hard at trains, walking tours and people outside the Olympic perimeter.

I was surprised how completely unfit I felt, and Andy was springing beside me like a deer. It was really kind of him to run with me as it was a nicer experience for grinning at someone! When we got back to the Olympic stadium, we went into the entrance but instead of running straight onto the track as I thought, we went through an industrial tunnel inside the stadium. This was great because you had seen a glimpse of inside the stadium and were all excited, but had suspense as you ran through the tunnel. To add to it, they played Chariots of Fire in the tunnel and there were workmen standing on blocks alongside cheering and high fiving.

Entering the stadium itself was phenomenal. It was simply like being famous! I noticed in a photo I took just after entering that everyone including myself was waving like a rock star to the crowds. It was compelling! Andy put in a big kick to the finish and I took my snaps waving like crazy down the final 300 metres in the stadium. I finished in 49 minutes, and while wasn't presented with a medal, found one down the bottom of my goody bag.

We had a long queue to get out of the Stadium again, but I was an Olympic medallist by that point, and I didn't care!

1 comment:

  1. For sure you are an Olympian! I'm glad you were chosen in the lottery. It sounds like it was a fun and unique day.