THE eyes of the world will be on the Olympic Stadium in London this summer, but before then a bunch of amateur runners from Milton Keynes had the chance to feel like superstars.
With the Chariots of Fire theme music bellowing out in the tunnel on the approach to the track entrance, the lucky 5,000 forgot their normal lives for a brief moment to feel like Olympians on Saturday afternoon.
The adrenaline was pumping like never before and suddenly tired legs felt weightless as we powered our way into history. Some stopped to take pictures and videos, while others – like me – were lost in the moment and ran like there was no tomorrow.
Only after crossing the finish line did I fully appreciate what it takes to do this for a living. The ecstasy. The pain. The glory. A lifetime of sacrifice and dedication for a few seconds on an athletics track.
The National Lottery Olympic Park Five Mile Run gave the likes of me the opportunity to not only run on the same stage as world class athletes, but to be feel like one before the greatest show on earth comes to Stratford in east London in July.
The Borough of Newham has clearly been rejuvenated since the Olympic Stadium began to rise out of the wasteland that was once a blot on the local landscape.
A huge shopping centre boasting the biggest high street names is the first sign of that recent prosperity you see when you first arrive at Stratford station.
Queuing for security checks that wouldn’t look out of place at Heathrow Airport came with the usual frustration, but all that was soon forgotten when you begin posing for pictures inside the Park.
It’s occasion like this that make me proud to be British. I must have shared a laugh and a smile with 100 people all in the same excited boat as me. And in typical British weather fashion it was cold and windy, but we were cold together as we waited in our hundreds for our turn to run.
Starting from near the back of the 5,000 runners, I was becoming more concerned with finding a toilet than warming up by the time it was my turn to start the race.
But I’d soon managed to put that uncomfortable feeling to the back of my mind when we got going and passed some of the Olympic Park’s soon-to-be iconic venues.
There is clearly a lot of work still to be done until the area no longer looks like a building site – but they have the time.
After forcing myself around the first four miles, we were teased by the prospect of entering the 80,000 capacity stadium long before we actually did. But it was well worth waiting for.
With the unmistakable theme of the Olympic Games to run to and my legs burning with the speed I was generating, we emerged from the tunnel in front of 10,000 of our closest friends and family to fulfil a once in a lifetime ambition. We won’t forget it.
MK Athletics Club runners Alex Knowles, Terry Down, Jade Leggett and Steve Howe all finished inside the top 550 on the day.
They were joined by Redway Runners Martin Lawrence, Karen Lawrence, James Dwight and Aimee Hiskins, as well as a hosts of former British Olympic stars, including Sally Gunnell and Steve Backley.
Well done to all. Now we can watch the real thing on the TV and say we were there.