The Simplyhealth Great Newham London Run 10km and 2km Family Run takes place at the London Stadium on July 2. Sign up now at greatrun.org/newham
A former Forest Gate resident is set to travel across the world to race in the Simplyhealth Great Newham London Run at the London Stadium this summer.
John Charles, a 33-year-old podiatrist now living in Melbourne, will make the mammoth 10,000-mile journey from southern Australia to Newham along with his wife Nat, who will also take part in the 10k run on July 2.
Having taken up running 13 years ago when John would regularly hit the paths in West Ham park, the chance to race in his boyhood borough once again was too good to resist for the East London expat.
“My parents moved to Forest gate when I was eight so I grew up in the area and used to run around there a fair bit, so I've always been in and around the local running scene,” said John.
“I would have run around the area as it was developing so I know it well from before the stadium was built, but I've never run inside the stadium before, that's what attracted me to return to Newham and enter the race.”
After relocating to Melbourne six years ago, John missed out on the chance to witness first-hand the spectacle of the London 2012 Olympics - taking place just two miles away from his former home.
The Simplyhealth Great Newham London Run takes runners on a tour of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park past the London Aquatics Centre, Copperbox Arena and Lee Valley VeloPark where the magic of the Games happened, before crossing the iconic finish line inside the London Stadium on the athletics track where Mo brought home double Gold.
“I've taken part in runs that finish up at the MCG in Melbourne so I know the feeling of running into a really exciting venue at the end of a race,” added John.
“The feeling that you'll follow in the footsteps of Olympians will be amazing because it was such an important thing for the area that I grew up in.”
Having grown up and pounded the pavements around Newham before the recent regeneration took place, John knows better than most the transformation that has occurred across the Simplyhealth Great Newham London Run course.
And despite relocating to the other side of the world, he is still proud to think of the widespread benefit this has had on the surrounding community.
“In terms of the race it's about being part of something in the area where I grew up and seeing how it's all benefitted from the stadium,” explained John.
“I lived in the area before the redevelopment so I would have grown up when Stratford was very different, it's great to see where it's come from and just how positive the Olympics and sport in general has made the area.
“The fact that people have got behind the idea of sport and promoting physical health and activity is great. It'll really hit home to see where Newham's come from when there really wasn't very much around.”
With plenty of support to draw on from friends and family still living in the area, there will be a familiar feel when John lines up on the start line.
“It might be a bit emotional too just to think of where the area has come from compared to where it is now.
“I guess as well that sense of being back home and having that connection to the local area will be really nice. Even though Australia is awesome Newham is still home.”
What is your favourite, can't go without piece of kit?
My Garmin GPS watch, I feel lost without it! I always look at my stats after very run to assess my progress
What is your favourite music to listen to when running?
Nothing! I'd rather listen to the natural sounds around me, whether its cars in the street or birds in the park
What do you eat before and after running?
I'd rather run on an empty stomach so the most I'll ever have is a banana. Post-run my go to food is a homemade vanilla protein shake and some yoghurt
What do you love about running?
I love the freedom of running and the fact that you can do it anytime and in any place
How does running make you feel?
Running makes me feel energised and more connected to the world around me
Who is your running idol or main inspiration?
Paula Radcliffe - I am inspired by her dedication to her own running and keep the sport clean and free of drug cheats