Many thanks to Stuart for allowing us to use the posting from his own blog running4results.blogspot.com
When I took up running about 6 years ago as a chubby unfit person, I would never have imagined lining up with 42 other British marathon runners at the first Olympic test event after being invited to help test the course. You have to laugh really.
Anyway, out of the 6 runners asked to help out, only me, Nick Dukes and Phil Cook made our way to London on Sunday. We arrived at the Union Jack Hotel in Waterloo, very nice place. It caters for ex-serviceman, but has great facilities for conferences etc. We all had our own rooms and had to meet the Olympic officials at 6.30pm for a briefing, there we were handed a map of the course and numbers.
There was a 30 minute presentation discussing logistics, (From LOCOG director of sport Debbie Jevans?-Ed). We all had to run together at 3 hour pace (2 pace setters). She did however say we could all race the last 400m or so, so that could be interesting. I asked her after "what about toilets stops?" She said, "Ok, but you have to run hard to catch the group up or your out!" LOL! Fair play! She also said we have to be up for breakfast at 4am to leave at 4.30am, no waiting. We all got stuck into the free grub and chilled out for a bit, a lot of the boys seemed concerned about the distance, not many runners are in marathon shape at the end of May!
I set my alarm for 3.30am. Just after I got up I had a text from somebody who was getting in from a night out, I had to laugh (again). All of us were in a bit of a coma eating breakfast that early. We all then made are way to the coach for the short journey to the Mall, and the start line. It was an amazing sight. The huge screen was up with all our names on, just as the Olympics would be set. We went into the Elite tent (this would be used for the 10k after) got our running chips and then, did our warm ups etc. Then at 5.50am we were led to the start line. There was about 50 photographs taking photos, Dave Bedford wished us luck, and Seb Coe was looking on. We did feel like proper athletes, everyone was buzzing. I think this being the first test event it did bring more media attention than I thought. (We were also told not to talk to the media after as they had designated spokesman) We had a starting brief and told we were about to become Olympians! We then had a minutes silence for Sammy Wanjuri, the current Olympian champion, a very poignant moment. Then the gun went.
We all set out together in a tight group, the course was a 2.2mile loop, then three 8 mile loops taking in the surrounding area. The pace was slightly quick, around 6.35-6.40 pace, but it felt really slow, I think people found it hard to keep the pace down as even though it wasn't a race, you're still in a race situation. The pacers should have been more on the ball to be honest. This was now a very weird situation. Running though London at 6am with police outriders and a lead van with about 10 people on just watching us. Very few people around but we did have some cheers, mainly from people coming home from a night out. We had some strange looks. One bloke on the top of a bridge just shouted out "get a real job" If only!! ha!! It made us all laugh.
We got to near the end of the first loop and I really needed the toilet, I knew this would be an issue due to running so early and the fact the pace was slow. When you're running fast your digestive system tends to stop so you don't need to go, not this time. One of the boys sprinted off, I worked out he was trying to get to the portaloo so he could then catch up, I followed him, we had some funny looks from the lead car, until they knew what we were doing. I looked behind and there were 4 chasing behind. The policeman was pissing himself. Nick jumped in the one next to me and I could hear him laughing, the group flew past. I think I had a PB in a No. 1 and 2! :-) We did a 6min mile to catch up. At the end of the 1st 8 mile loop you pass the finish fine, a massive screen came up with our names and current times on, it felt great.
The next loop came and went quickly, it was great as we were all just chatting away with each other, wish we could do this for every long run. I got some inside information from the Serps (Serpentine) on there senior Castles team, so I didn't waste the opportunity :-) We got to the end of the 2nd loop and coming down towards the finish line the clock read 2.03.30. I was leading at this point and shouted, world record on lads (it was funny at the time!!!!!) Shame we had another lap. I was talking to the pace leader at this point and we agreed to go for a sprint finish with 400m to go. However, with about 3 miles left we then all decided to let Chris Finill cross the line first. He is one of only a handful of London marathon 'ever presents' (Those who've completed every London marathon - a select group which includes Les Croups Jeff Aston-Ed). I was talking to him the night before and he knows Jeff Aston and Mick McGeogh well, I was happy to avoid a sprint finish after 3 hours of running!! He crossed the line and we all followed in en-mass. We were awaited by reporters and cameras. We all shook each other hands and enjoyed the moment. Finishing time 2.58.40 - a photo finish for 2nd!!!!
So, I have to admit, this was one of the highlights of my running life, It's great to get something back from the training and this was one of those times. Me, Nick and Phil then went to watch the Bupa 10k, which was taking place at 11am. Mo Farah won in 29mins. Then we met some mates and had a few pints in the local pub (The Old Shades) for a few hours to discuss the day. Me and Nick kept our elite passes on to pretend we were 'good' runners for a bit longer, why not!!
Sorry for the long report (I could have rambled on more) but hope you may have found it of interest. I'll put up some links to some media report later. To be honest the course is not fast, and there were a few concerns with 180 degree angles and cobbles. This is why they probably didn't want us to tell the media!
Now this is over with, I need to get back to speed work and get ready for the Welsh 5000M champs. Legs felt ok, if a bit tight in the night. The lads did a track session of 3x5x200m. I just did some strides, hope to be back to it tomorrow
SUN - AM - Rest
PM - Rest
MON - AM - Olympic test marathon - 2hours 58mins - 40sec (easy pace)
PM - Rest - Pub
TUES - AM - rest (very tired)
PM - Track - Just jogging and striding (5 miles)
Keep the faith