I entered a competition online after seeing a link on Twitter by chance. The competition was being promoted by Sainsbury’s and Heart FM London, they wanted runners to take part in a special relay. The relay was going to be held at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, during the London Olympic Anniversary Games.
As soon as I saw it I thought – Wow, what an amazing opportunity! So I sent off a short application form online. There was a few days before the competition ended so I patiently waited to hear anything back.
A few days later I received a phone call from a producer at Heart FM saying I was on a shortlist to be on the relay team, after a short conversation he offered me a place on JK and Lucy’s team. To say I was over the moon would be an understatement. I still thought it was some kind of wind up. There was still some paperwork to send back and a few more finer details to come out, but the reality was that I was going to run at the Olympic Stadium in front of 50,000 spectators. Things like that don’t come round very often.
The week leading up to the race I changed my usual training regime slightly to incorporate sprint training. I’ve always been pretty fast since a very young age, only a few years ago I was doing 100 meters in 11 seconds without any training. Though I do quite a lot of fitness training anyway serving in the Army. I think I hit the sprints too hard though as I had strained about 3 different muscles. So the rest of the week I spent doing strength training and light running with plenty of ice packs on.
During the week Heart FM announced the other runners who had also been selected, they were a mixed bunch of abilities and ages, mainly long distance runners! On first impressions it looked like Jamie and Emma had the strongest line up, though you should never judge a book by cover.
I was fortunate to get tickets to watch the Anniversary Games on the Friday night, so I travelled into London on a very wet Friday afternoon, I had never been to the stadium before and was very impressed by the venue. The seats were perfect too, just slightly behind the finish line and 20 rows up. It was amazing to see all the world class Olympians competing. I even got butterflies when watching the juniors relay teams, who were running before the main events. I kept thinking that is going to be me tomorrow. The highlight was seeing Usain Bolt and Mo Farah wins their races.
I arrived at the stadium early the next day, met up with the Heart FM Rep and headed into the stadium. After a short period we got the nod and passes to go onto the track and into the changing room area with an official from British Athletics, walking past world class athletes like Jess Ennis-Hill and Katerina Johnson-Thompson on the way, also we had stopped at the warm up area, where all the athletes were getting ready. We eventually got to our room to be greeted by Jamie Theakston, Emma Bunton, JK and Lucy Horobin.
At this point there were lots of cameras filming and taking pictures, it was very surreal to say the least. We changed into race T- shirts and official athletes bibs. We then moved to a holding area where most the athletes were warming up next to us. We were waiting to get the call to go out, we got called forward walking out into the stadium, then we were to told to wait at the side as the Olympic Champion pole vaulter, was attempting a world record jump. So we had to wait for him to do his first attempt, we eventually got to our start positions for the 4 x 100 relay, I had the 3rd leg (the top bend). As we were waiting to start I had the long jumpers just starting their competition right next to me and Renaud Lavillenie attempting his second world record attempt in the pole vaulting. Looking round the stadium I stood there just taking it all in.
Then the moment came, the race started, our first runner John put up at valiant performance against the younger female Daisy, not much in it at this point. The second leg was probably the one where the race was lost. The young club runner Stu ran against Karen, this was definitely a miss-match, as he established a massive lead. Mark the long distance runner set off, as I waited for Karen to reach, I think he had a 10 second head start and probably 50 meters. I set off like a speed train and ran as fast and hard as I could, I was gaining on Mark every step, the commentator noticed this too as did the crowd, the roar from the crowd inspired me even more and as I came in to change over there was nothing in it. Jamie Theakston set off and with a slight advantage at this point, Lucy ran brilliantly and I honestly thought she was going to catch him as he tired towards the finish line, we lost by 0.5 of a second. The race was over in a flash and both teams did brilliantly considering we only met an hour before.
After the race we got some photos as a group and went back to the changing areas. I think everyone was buzzing from what had just happened.
For me it probably took a few hours to sink in, as an amateur runner I don’t know if anything will ever beat this experience. I felt honoured to get the chance to run at the Olympic Stadium in front of thousands of people.
This post was written by Adam Blackburn using our Create an article for South Leeds Life page.