The Olympic marathon will go through Tower Hamlets. A local blogger, monitoring the trial Olympic run on Sunday, discovered that runners entered and ran through the borough for approximately one minute for each circuit of the track.The council were disappointed when Olympic organisers Locog revised the marathon route last year to exclude the borough, citing potential traffic chaos as the primary reason. When we contacted the council they hadn’t yet heard the good news.
The brief jog through the borough, takes place at Trinity Square Gardens in the shadow of the Tower of London, where Tower Hamlets borders Westminster. If the test circuit is to remain unaltered for the Olympics, the borough may see up to ten minutes of marathon time within its borders as runners go round in circles.
The blogger who witnessed the test run early on Monday morning, known as ‘Diamond Geezer’, admitted that the brush with the borough was: “Just the tiny historic corner where none of us live.” However, he was pleased to observe any contact with the previously shunned borough at all: “That’s four minutes in Tower Hamlets, which is infinitely better than the zero minutes everybody in politics and the media seems to be assuming.”
The fact may come as little consolation to Tower Hamlets Council, who were originally promised a route that wound through the heart of the borough past Whitechapel, Stepney Green, Mile End, and Bow before eventually arriving at the Olympic village in Stratford.
A statement from the council at the time said that the decision was “a confirmation of a broken Olympic promise to the people of East London,” and that it gave residents “all the inconvenience of the traffic and disruption for the Games, without any of the benefits.”
London 2012 chair Lord Coe said that the excluding the East End from the race was “one of the hardest decisions we have had to take.” Despite national media attention, vocal opposition from the council, and a petition signed by more than 600 local residents, the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) decided to keep the route in central London.
In a letter to the council, Locog said:
“This new route balances the needs of the athletes, the need to keep London moving throughout two of the Games busiest days, and the need to provide a good spectator experience.”
Words by Steve Howe