The only time I ever won anything through the National Lottery was when my place came through for this pre London 2012 taster event. No dramatic quitting of job for me, no relocation to Tuscany, no “How I blew millions on unnecessary new running shoes” stories in the national press. This lottery win had no cash prize and was shared with 4999 other runners who all got an early chance to run around the Olympic Park in London’s Stratford, 3 miles away from my home.
It was the first time I’d received a commemorative t-shirt before completing a race, a nice red technical one since you’re asking. This was part of the organisers’ plot to make a big visual statement on the day – 5000 people all dressed in red, snaking around the 5 mile course. This led to a great feeling of being part of a temporary community, at an EVENT.
The majority of this race was a bit of a blur, not because of any zippy pace on my part at a distance I’d never sampled before. There was such a lot to see and hear – the jog around the Velodrome sticks in the mind and a different musical genre at every bend: samba, Bhangra, brass bands.
The stand out moment was when we reached the stadium and were marshalled into a tunnel where for 100 metres or so we were bombarded with the music from Chariots of Fire before emerging into daylight to do three quarters of a lap of the athletics track. This provided me with an opportunity to put on a bit of a burst of “speed”. Here you can see the mixed grimace of determination and pain as I participated in a fascinating duel with Formula 1 commentator Natalie Pinkham (I had to Google her when I saw I’d been photographed next to someone with a “celeb” race number – usually she’s snapped alongside slightly more famous men…).
Cheered on by what will probably be the biggest ever crowd to see me finish a race, I crossed the line some 4 months earlier than Usain, Mo and Jessica.