AFTER what seemed like an eternity since the Great Manchester Run 10k and half marathons back in May, Team Blind Dave was on the road again - well, on the tracks this time, as we made our way to London, Newham, with London Midland sponsoring our travel.
After a couple of hours' travel on the train, followed by a short but very hot journey on the London Underground, we eventually reached Stratford High Street, hot, thirsty and tired - but just outside the station was salvation in the shape of an ice cream van, and we all enjoyed the delights of very welcome 99 cornets.
Once we had dropped our bags at the hotel, we did a little recce to find where the run started the following morning - to our surprise it was simply five minutes around the corner. What a result, we could catch a little lie-in on the Sunday morning.
With the weather surprisingly hot we had a snacky tea, bumping into a couple from Birmingham, Mark and Mary who were also down to run next morning, in fact Mark had already got a Team Blind Dave shirt to run in, increasing the Newham support by one!
Sunday morning up, kit on and down for a full English breakfast. Stepping out of the hotel, the weather was lovely, warm with a slight breeze, five minutes later we were walking on to the Olympic Park, a totally different park from last night, now the PA system sending music and race instructions around the park.
There were loads of people milling around, mainly runners but still plenty of people just out for a sunny Sunday morning stroll. We caught up with a lot of the Great Run team for a few photos, interviews and before we knew it, we were ushered to the start line, as once again our little team had been given a few minutes start on the rest of the runners.
The hooter was sounded and I was told that we were given a wave and a great shout from Jo Pavey, what a way to start the Great Newham London Run. The lads Garry and Tony were already on the case, giving me the lowdown on sites we were passing. The support from the crowds was once again fantastic, Garry mentioned the Orbit, it seemed to be quite a focal point, at times in front, then to the left and then the right.
We ran around a huge office complex, then the Velodrome, we seemed to cross a lot of bridges, probably the same one time and time again, always though the Olympic Stadium in view, now of course the home of West Ham United. To run in the Olympic Park was great and to have the opportunity to finish on the track unbelievable.
I was lucky enough in 2012 to take part in the opening ceremony of the Paralympic Games, which was certainly a very special evening, but to come back and finish on that track was the icing on the cake. Entering the stadium bought it all back, underneath the stadium itself was where we waited with our bikes ready to ride out into the arena in 2012, but as we then entered the stadium itself, actually running on the track, the hairs on the back of my neck once again stood on end.
It wasn’t quite the same roar that came from 80,000 people that night but the buzz as we ran towards the finish was immense, the finish line came quickly but the smile on my face stayed for a very long time after. What a great end to a Great Run.
Run number 11 was completed, with the next stop Gateshead a week later. After a few more photos and a quick chat we slowly made our way back out of the park to the hotel, lo and behold as we came off the park, another ice cream van presented itself. Not ones to be rude, we had to have a recovery ice cream.
Our little trips are never without incident, walking back to the station Tony walked me into a lamppost, followed by Garry then not telling me I was about to step on to an escalator, I did the dance of the seven veils, the lads and many bystanders it seems found it quite amusing, glad the lads are better running guides than walking guides! So, on to the Tube, train then home and sanctuary!