The final race (race 1, race 2) in the Royal Parks 10k Winter Series came round just as my cold moved from semi-debilitating to massive snot-fest (I went to bed on the 4th Jan and didn’t get out again for 3 days – what a way to start the year).
The race was due to take place in Hyde Park but a few weeks before I got an email from the organisers saying that it was going to have to be in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park instead. The where? Oh, the new park in Stratford, previously the site of burned out cars and squat parties, and (more recently) a major sporting event that you may or may not have seen on TV.
It was a cold day and I woke up early to get the train over to Stratford. The train was quiet and I settled into my seat until a man got on and started smoking a crack pipe while trying to chat me up. He got off at the next stop, and I looked out of the window thankfully, spotting my friend Jimbilly on the platform. We had a chat through the window – we were both off to Stratford but I couldn’t get my head around why we were on different trains.
Arriving in Stratford I made use of the shopping centre toilet facilities (quite nice) before walking over to the Orbit, where the race was due to start. I thought I’d have loads of time but I faffed around for ages changing clothes/shoes and missed the race briefing. Not a huge problem if you’re not leading, I think, as you can just follow the people in front.
Lap 1 was disorientating, the athletics stadium appeared to always be on my left no matter which way I turned.
Lap 2 was just as disorientating, the athletics stadium became the aquatics centre when I blinked and I didn’t know where I was on the course.
Lap 3 started with a walk through the drinks station and I also had another couple of sneaky walks as I was feeling a bit tired. Ha. Still couldn’t get my sodding bearings.
A new PB, I was pleased.
I retrieved my bag and cheered on some of the slower runners. I’ve got a lot of respect for anyone who’d drag themselves out of bed on a cold Sunday morning in order to come last in a race.
Afterwards I went back to the shopping centre facilities and had a quick wet wipe shower before taking the bus over to Homerton for brunch, where I managed to swap two items of my veggie breakfast for halloumi. PB and halloumi fest – an excellent Sunday.