In a world very quickly being taken over by mass participation race companies, it’s nice to know there are all still events about that have that personal touch. You know the ones we mean: still small enough that you notice the faces of the smiling marshals as you make your way past, no ridiculous queues to get on the tube at 7am in the morning, and still cheap enough to mean you can sign up without having to ask for the entry as a Christmas present.
We’ve been big fans of the QEOP 10k series for the past couple of years now. A nice, simple three lap route that takes place around the Olympic park on the first Saturday of every month. No roads, no massive queues for toilets, and no shuffling along for the first two kilometres as the pack spreads out. Just running, in a nice place, with nice people. Bliss.
As locations go for a race you could do a lot worse than the Olympic Park. The route twists and turns around the canal as it passes the various iconic buildings we were obsessed with four years ago. There are parks, climbing walls, fountains, cafes and generally a fair few people pottering about enjoying their weekends. The starting point is the little cafe that sits next to the ArcelorMittal Orbit – that weird modern art-type structure that looks like it should be in a Luc Besson film (soon to be made into an enormous helter skelter, which sounds pretty cool).
We headed over to run the 10k race at the start of May, a weekend that saw our first heat wave of the year. Something we weren’t prepared for in the slightest. The number of runners fluctuates of the course of the year, as you might expect, with the spring/summer races picking up far larger numbers than the winter months. There were about 300 runners in the May event, a perfect number for the size of the course, with abilities varying a great deal across the field.
We won’t tell you too much about our performance, but suffice to say the Friday night temptation of a beer garden did not help our running ability at 9.30 in the morning. And that’s without the added issue of the sun blazing down on us. As running days go however it was one hell of a nice one. Not too hot to be unbearable, but enough to make it seem like we were on holiday.
The location is perfect for a race. The cafe at the start acts as a hub, you can nip in and use the real toilets, have a cup of coffee before the start and even nip back in for breakfast whilst you watch the rest of the runners finish. If you come in via Stratford station you can use the toilets in Westfield as you walk through (yeah, toilets are a big thing for us, get over it) and pick up supplies. You can then nip back in afterwards for a wander round if that’s your bag.
The organisation is also pretty much perfect. The legendary team at The Race Organiser are a damn nice bunch, smiling and shouting encouragement from start to finish. They’ve been running the races there for a fair old while there now so they know it like the back of their hands.
The series takes places on the first Saturday of every month and costs £17, which is pretty good value if you ask us. You get a medal and a goody bag as well, which is always nice.
The quick review:
Supporters: Fifty or so at the finish line. The majority of the course is pretty empty.
Goody Bag: Medal, Water, Snacks
For more info on the QEOP 10k series nip over to the website here.