The only thing I’ve ever won in my life was a gold fish at a local carnival when I was eight. Seriously, that’s it.
Not even as much as a pound on a scratch card in the 30 years since.
So, when I found out via e-mail last year l’d got one of 5,000 places in the National Lottery Olympic Park Five Mile Run, I thought it was a scam. I was even more sceptical when it was revealed 43,000 people applied in the public ballot but, no, it was for real.
The experience was amazing and it still hasn’t sunk in that I’ve run the same 100 and 200 metres that Usain Bolt will take this summer. It’s like I’ve dreamt the whole thing.
The race was fantastically organised and attracted a number of former Olympians and celebrities, including Roger Black and Sally Gunnell with Holly Willoughby presenting on the day.
Before I set off I was actually a bit nervous, but the adrenaline took over as the thousands of red-shirted runners around me bobbed up and down to keep warm. After what seemed like hours of waiting, we were off.
The course snaked around the Olympic Park, running past key venues, including the impressive Velodrome, the basketball arena. the Copper Box (handball, goalball and modern pentathlon fencing) and Aquatics Centre.
There were drummers, and even a brass band, along the way to keep runners motivated while workmen on site paused to cheer.
Mile Five took us through the tunnel underneath the Stadium to the sounds of ‘Chariots of Fire’ blasting. For some reason I felt really emotional.
More worryingly though, I started to imagine I was in a feel-good movie. I was an underdog runner, who against all odds, was about to win the race sprinting the last stretch through the stadium in record time!
Seriously though, this was it. This was the moment I could only imagine since getting that e-mail last year.
As I entered the stadium, the noise from the crowd was electrifying.
Sprinting the last 200 metres allowed me, for the briefest of moments, to feel what it must be like to be an Olympian, to be somebody truly great at their sport.
My face hit freeze frame and I couldn’t stop smiling, and I probably looked quite deranged, waving frantically to family in the stands. I think I even attempted a mid-air star jump at one point, such was the buzz of the place.
I completed the race in 54 minutes 41 seconds. No surprise I didn’t win, although it’s a new personal best for me. The first runner to cross the Olympic finish line was Tommy Davies, 26, of Loughborough, who won the race with a time of 25 minutes 11 seconds. He was so fast he’d finished before the wave of runners I was in even crossed the start line.
To be honest, while I’m proud of my time, what means more is being able to say: ‘I ran in the London 2012 Olympic Stadium’. I can say with some certainty I’ll never do that again.
I know it’s a cliche, but running in the Olympic Stadium was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, which I’ll never forget.