Over 17,000 thousand runners took to the track at the former Olympic Stadium today for the inaugural Morrisons Great Newham London Run.
The Morrisons Great Newham London Run was the first opportunity for thousands of people in London and across the UK to get a preview of the Stadium as it is being transformed and take part in a 10k run, a 2k Family Run and a Team Relay race.
This event marks the culmination of an amazing weekend of mass sports participation events organised by the Great Run Company in partnership with the London Borough of Newham which saw 24,000 people take part in the running event and the Great Newham London Swim.
Legendary athlete and marathon world-record holder Paula Radcliffe officially started the main 10km run this morning.
John Beattie running for Newham and Essex Beagles Athletics Club was the first person across the finish line, completing the course in 31 minutes 44 seconds. In second place was Peter Hawkings from Stratford (33:18) with Gus Upton finishing third (33:24).
John Beattie said: “I wanted to win today. It’s a fantastic event in an incredible stadium so I’ll remember it for a very long time. I really enjoyed the chance to run in the Olympic Stadium. Mo Farah was one of the big winners here at London 2012 so it’s great that another Newham and Essex Beagle club runner should pick up the title here today. I could have run faster but wanted to really enjoy the experience. It’s been an incredible and amazing day.”
The first woman to cross the finish line was Fiona Thompson running for Thames Valley Harriers in a time of 36 minutes and 50 seconds. Rosamund Ponder was second (37:12) with Fiona Walker in third (37:29).
Fiona Walker said: “It’s really cool to run here and when you run through the Stadium tunnel and hear the commentary of Mo Farah's run in 2012. It’s really great. The crowd were fantastic. They really lift you and help you find a little bit more and that’s something you wouldn’t normally get unless you were competing at the Olympics. The Great Run events are fantastic. They encourage everyone to get out there and get active. I’m a big believer in mass participation events and getting everybody out there running.”
Paula Radcliffe said: "Running is such a huge part of my life so I was thrilled to see thousands of runners, of all ages and abilities, take part in today's Morrisons Great Newham London Run. Being in the Stadium, where so many dreams came true in 2012, is really special. I'm so glad that people are having the opportunity to use this amazing venue."
Participants were cheered on by enthusiastic spectators as they completed a circuit which took in the Lee Valley VeloPark, London Aquatics Centre and the Copper Box Arena. All finishers in the Morrisons Great Newham London Run had their very own Usain Bolt or Jessica Ennis-Hill Olympic moment, as they crossed the famous finish line on the running track inside the Stadium.
A quartet of leading Kenyan road runners attempted to break the mythical sub-two hour marathon barrier by taking part in the Team Relay Race, with each athlete running a distance of 10.54km. The Kenyan team finished first with a time of 2:02:56. The GB men’s team finished in 2:13:27 with the women’s British team completing the Race in 2:29:34.
Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of Newham, also took part in the run. He said: “It was fantastic to see so many people at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park taking part in the Morrisons Great Newham London Run. The atmosphere on the course was electric and great to see how all the London 2012 venues have been transformed. But nothing can beat running through the Olympic Stadium and seeing the crowds cheering you across the finish line - it is such a euphoric moment. Events like this help are key to inspiring budding athletes to get up and become active and I expect that many people will get the running bug after this experience.”
Brendan Foster, Chairman of Great Run said: "Having 17,000 people running in the former Olympic Stadium today has been wonderful and from the look on everyone's face today, it looks like they've had a fantastic time. We've got some exciting ambitions for the Great Run series and if today is anything to go by, we're very confident that this event will grow over the coming years."
Sir Robin added: “Today we’ve seen a sneak preview of what will be in store for Newham residents and visitors once the stadium transformation works have been complete next summer. There will be so many opportunities like this where both professional and amateur athletes will be able to be a part of the legacy of London 2012.”
The Morrisons Great Newham London Run is aiming to become the biggest running event in Britain with 60,000 people taking part within five years. Radcliffe is an ambassador for the Morrisons Great Run Series, where she is promoting mass participation running events and aims to encourage more women, from a wide range of backgrounds, to take part in the events.
The former Olympic Stadium is being transformed from its Games time use to be a world-class venue capable of delivering world-class sporting and cultural events. It will open fully in 2016 when it becomes the home of West Ham United and the national competition centre for UK Athletics.
Entries for the Morrisons Great Newham London Run 2016 are now open at www.greatrun.org.