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Q&A with Five-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Noel Thatcher

Noel has been an ambassador for the race and Seeing is Believing for five years – we caught up with him to ask about his experiences of previous races, why the race beneficiary means so much to him and his thoughts ahead of the Paralympic Games in Rio this September:

Q. Noel, you have been an ambassador of the Standard Chartered Great City Race now since 2010 – how have you found the experience over the years?

This is the sixth time I have been an ambassador for the race and I have always thoroughly enjoyed doing it. I have a fantastic relationship with the staff at Standard Chartered and Seeing Is Believing, which goes far beyond your usual working relationship – it's a really committed partnership from both sides, built on a mutual desire to promote this great cause as effectively as possible.

Q. You must be excited with the Paralympics coming up later this year. Who are your British athletes to look out for?

We are very blessed with the quality of British athletes we have at the moment. Libby Clegg, an ambassador for last year's Great City Race, definitely has medal potential although she faces stiff competition from the Brazilians who have some tremendous runners in the visually impaired section. David Devine is someone who will be coming into the event a bit under the radar and has a good chance of doing well too. 

Q. The profile of the Paralympics has grown rapidly over the last few years – do you think this progress will be maintained in the coming years?

Yes I do. As you say, the Paralympics has generated a great deal of momentum recently across the globe and particularly within Britain. It is testament not only to the British athletes, but also the British media who have helped shine a spotlight on us.

Q. How is your own running going Noel?

I haven't run much recently, although I was out jogging with my son the other day (he's not yet 5!). Hopefully I still have the upper hand on him at the moment! He loves to move though and I reckon he's more likely to be smashing his personal best in the future than I am!

Q. What does the charity beneficiary of the race, Seeing Is Believing, mean to you?

It means a great deal. It has been an honour to be a small part of what is an extraordinary, global initiative that does fantastic work, tackling avoidable blindness and giving people the chance to have a higher quality of life.

Q. What’s your final bit of advice to the runners in three words?

Good. Luck. Everyone!

Training with Olympic Gold Medallist Noel Thatcher

For most of us with good eyesight, it’s hard to imagine how anyone could run a 5k without being able to see the route or the road surface, or even the other runners around you. But for keen runners from Metro Blind Sport and the Thomas Pocklington Trust, completing a 5k as a partially sighted or blind person is an almost everyday occurrence . TPT is dedicated to improving the lives of people who are blind or partially sighted and Metro aims to open doors to sport for all visually impaired people, regardless of age or ability. Some of their runners will be competing in the Great City Race on 14 July.

These runners met last week for a training session so that volunteer guides from Standard Chartered could learn how to help their visually impaired partners. Sighted and visually impaired runners were given expert tips and advice from 5 times gold medallist and veteran of 6 Paralympic Games, Noel Thatcher MBE. Noel has run the Great City Race several times before and will be official race starter this year before leaping down from the starter’s podium and joining his guide to complete the route again.

Noel is a race ambassador and a supporter of Standard Chartered’s global initiative, Seeing Is Believing (SiB) which has a target of raising $100m before 2020 to tackle avoidable blindness. It is estimated that there are 39 million people in the world today that are blind, most of them living in the developing world. Yet, in eight out of ten cases, blindness can be prevented or treated with proven, cost effective interventions. To help raise awareness and support fundraising for SiB, some of Standard Chartered’s staff will be running the Great City Race blindfolded.

One of the blindfolded volunteers, Tom, said, “Putting the blindfold on was really disorientating. I couldn’t tell what was an object or a shadow and I couldn’t judge where the ground was so I was jogging as if I was doing a high-knees warm up routine. I was running with a guide using a tether which also took some getting used to as I needed to rely on it and feel which way the tether was leading me. It was hard to trust that and give in to relying on the other person.”

The runners from Thomas Pocklington and Metro are much more experienced than Tom and are used to running a range of distance races so last week’s training was more for the benefit of the guides.

Asked about running at Olympic level and his thoughts on Rio 2016, Noel commented: “We live in an age now where it’s perfectly normal to see Paralympic athletes and VI runners featured on the sports page of the broadsheets.” He said, “Before London 2012 we couldn’t even get in our local papers but now a Paralympic athlete’s profile has never been better; an improvement not just for sport but for the wider disability community”.

For more information on running as a visually impaired person, please visit the Metro Blind Sport website or British Blind Sport for Noel’s case study and information on how to become a licensed guide runner.


Well done to all who took part in this year’s race, and a special congratulations to our winners on the day: Phil Wicks, Allianz and Lara Bromilow, HSBC, who finished with respective times of 14:43 and 17:38.

Once again, we had a brilliant time watching nearly 5,000 of you run with your various companies to take part in the event and help us raise USD100K for the official race beneficiary, Seeing is Believing.

We want to hear from you? What did you think of the 2015 Standard Chartered Great City Race?

It’s always important to get your feedback and we have set up a short survey to find out what you really thought and how we can make it better next year.

What’s more, if you kindly answer the survey you will be placed into a prize draw to win one of five £50 vouchers to spend on adidas training gear at the London Marathon Store.

For Ts&Cs click here.

Back to congratulating you and your team on another fantastic run...

Whether you ran in your team or charged off to seek a personal best we hope you had a fantastic time and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the sites of London in a slightly different way. Perhaps, you even overtook our race mascot Sir SiB.

This year marked the 11th year Standard Chartered Bank has sponsored the Great City Race. We would like to thank you for the remarkable support the event receives each year – continuing to raise significant amounts for Seeing is Believing which helps to prevent, treat and cure avoidable blindness across the globe.

If you would like to see your own race time, please go to the link here.

Share your race story with us and join the conversation #runforareason

Time to countdown to the 2015 Standard Chartered Great City Race!

Race Going Ahead despite London Underground Strike

In case you were wondering whether the Standard Chartered Great City Race will be affected by the tube strike, we would like to reassure you that the Race is going ahead as planned on Thursday and we’re confident it will be a fantastic evening.

A 24 hour strike by London Underground workers is scheduled to begin on the evening of Wednesday 8 July. London Marathon Events Ltd, the organisers of the Race, have been working closely with the relevant authorities, including the City of London, the City of London police, the London Borough of Islington and Transport for London.

Please plan ahead to ensure that you can get to the HAC Ground in good time for the start of the race at 7.15pm and home again afterwards. You may need to take a different route or a different mode of transport.

Please check your travel options at www.tfl.gov.uk/tube-strike

Two Days to Go

In two days time, the streets of the City of London will once again be closed to host you and 5,000 runners around the 5km course. We’re running to raise money for the official race beneficiary, Seeing Is Believing. What’s your reason?

With only a couple days to go, we’ve noted the essential points you’ll need to prepare for the big day.

Captains, you should have received your race pack in the post on Monday.

If you have not received your race pack by the afternoon of Tuesday 07 July 2015 please let us know on 0207 902 0200.

What to expect in team race packs:

  • Team race numbers
  • Safety pins to attach to your number to your team shirts!
  • Individual race chips for each member of your team to accurately record their time
  • Information on where to go and when to arrive – for those of you who are new to the race please read this carefully
  • A beer voucher

Message for team captains – please ensure you have distributed the contents of your pack to your team members prior to the race.

Just to remind you... the race starts at 19:15 on Thursday 09 July.


Staying hydrated is key. Make sure you are drinking between 2-3 litres of water in the lead up to race day, but on the day itself, don’t go overboard - have enough to quench your thirst, but remember overdoing it can lead to cramps.

Warm Up

Warming up before any physical activity is very important, particularly when you have spent all day in the office. It allows oxygen to go to the muscles, which in turn makes them more supple, allowing for enhanced movement and reducing the risk of injury.

Make sure you take part in our race warm up at 18.40 to ensure you don’t pull a muscle halfway round!

Post Race

At the end of your 5km run, don’t instantly stop moving as it is much better to walk around and allow the lactic acid to be removed from your muscles. Collect your finisher goody bag and head back to the HAC ground for our race warm down at 19.50. Stretching will help your muscles return to their normal length and prevent stiffness on Friday!

Win £250 worth of adidas training gear!

We’re running a competition to win some fantastic adidas training gear if you attend the running club at the heart of the City five times or more. It’s a free running club based underneath the London Marathon Store – so why not invite your team to get running and training ahead of this year’s Great City Race.

When you sign up for a run at the adidas 26rs club state your name and company and that you are running in the 2015 Standard Chartered Great City Race.

Find the adidas 26rs club house at the London Marathon Store at 1 – 3 Norton Folgate Bishopsgate London E1 6DB.

Click here for full details of how to join http://bit.ly/1F6a4Zz

And remember to let your Twitter followers know you have joined by including the hashtag #SCGCRadidas26rs in your tweets.

2015 SCGCR Ambassadors Announced

We recently held an event to announce Jonathan Edwards, Libby Clegg and Noel Thatcher as the 2015 Great City Race ambassadors. Hosted at the Honourable Artillery Company, where the race starts and finishes, Olympic Gold medallist Jonathan Edwards was joined by Paralympians Libby Clegg and Noel Thatcher to demonstrate the importance of Seeing is Believing by tasking invited media to run blindfolded.

The team of press attended the event to enjoy breakfast with our ambassadors before a short masterclass from Libby and Noel. Joined by Richard Holmes, CEO Europe, Standard Chartered Bank, our ambassadors discussed their thoughts on this year’s Great City Race and gave a first-hand account of the impact London 2012 had on Paralympic sports.

After a short time, the conversation moved to the technical aspects of running with a guide. How do you select your running partner? Do you get on with your guide? For our Paralympic athletes, Noel and Libby spoke of their experience both good and bad. Libby, who is currently training for this year’s World Championships in Doha said that she completely trusts her guide Mikail and without a doubt, communication is crucial for success.

After our breakfast, it was over to the action. We stepped outside to a short running course and blindfolded the journalists and Standard Chartered’s Richard Holmes, to experience what it is like to run with no sight.

To see pictures from the event head to the Standard Chartered Great City Race Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/StandardCharteredGreatCityRace

Here’s a bit more information about this year’s team of ambassadors, in case you bump into them on the day!

Jonathan Edwards is a former British triple jumper. He is an ex Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European Champion, and has held the world record in the event since 1995 when he jumped 18.29 metres.

Libby Clegg is a Scottish Paralympic sprinter who has won silver for Great Britain in the T12 100m in the last two Paralympic Games, as well as being the current world champion in the T12 100m and 200m distances.

Noel Thatcher represented Great Britain at six Paralympic games between 1984 and 2004, winning a total of five gold medals. He set world records at Barcelona in 1992, and Sydney in 2000, and has worked as a physiotherapist since retiring in 2004.

Entries are now closed!

The 2015 Standard Chartered Great City Race has already reached full capacity with over 6,000 entrants from 350 companies registered to take part in the 5k charity race!

Eight landmarks: Eight facts

Running on the iconic streets of the City’s square mile is a great way to take in scenery that you may not notice on your early morning commute. We’ve identified eight key landmarks on the course and eight facts that should make you appreciate your London work place more.

  • The Honourable Artillery Company [EC1Y 2BQ] has the largest garden in the City of London
  • The world’s first silent disco was held at Barbican [EC2Y 8DS] in 2001
  • Smithfield will be the new home of the Museum of London [EC2Y 5HN] - the 70 million pound move is planned to be completed by 2021
  • St. Paul’s Cathedral [EC4M 8AD] has the second largest dome in the world and stands at 366ft high
  • The Guildhall [EC2V 7HH] formed the setting for which Lady Jane Grey stood trial in 1553
  • In 2016, the Bank of England [EC2R 8AH] will issue a £5 note featuring Churchill
  • Look out for Tower 42 [EC2N 1HQ], it was the UK’s tallest building for over decade until 1990 and stands just three metres higher than the younger Gherkin
  • It may be a small landmark amongst the City’s sky scrapers but when it was originally built by the Romans in 200AD the London Wall [EC2Y 5AJ] stretched for over 2 miles

Get running!

The adidas 26rs is a free running club at the heart of the City and here at Standard Chartered Great City Race we’d like to invite you to get involved. So bring you and your colleagues along to enjoy the benefits of the fantastic service.

We are also running a prize draw for all Standard Chartered Great City Race participants. Simply attend the adidas 26rs club five times or more for the chance to win £250 worth of adidas training gear.

When you sign up for a run at the adidas 26rs club state your name and company and that you are running in the 2015 Standard Chartered Great City Race.

Find the adidas 26rs club house at the London Marathon Store at 1 – 3 Norton Folgate Bishopsgate London E1 6DB.

Click here for full details of how to join http://bit.ly/1F6a4Zz

And remember to let your Twitter followers know you have joined by including the hashtag #SCGCRadidas26rs in your tweets.

Join the adidas 26rs

The adidas 26rs is a running club inspired by the London Marathon and here at Standard Chartered Great City Race, we’d like to invite you to be a part of it.

The Extra Mile Incentive: For all Standard Chartered Great City Race participants, attend the adidas 26rs club five times for the chance to win £250 worth of adidas training gear. We've got prizes two prizes worth £250 to give away to one female and one male winner.

When you sign up for a run at the adidas 26rs club state your name and company and that you are running in the 2015 Standard Chartered Great City Race.

Find the adidas 26rs club house at the London Marathon Store at 1 – 3 Norton Folgate Bishopsgate London E1 6DB.

It’s for runners and would be runners of all abilities and levels of motivation, whether you are a sub 3 hour marathon runner or aiming to tick off the Standard Chartered Great City Race before hanging up your trainers for good.

Everyone is welcome – for free.

And once you become one of the adidas 26rs, you’ll never need to run alone again. Groups set off from the London Marathon Store in Bishopsgate throughout the week, at lunch times, evenings and at weekends.

And because this is an adidas initiative, there is plenty of cutting edge sports kit to help things go smoothly. Every runner gets their own locker and you can even trial out the adidas Boost running shoes for free.

Click here for full details of how to join http://bit.ly/1F6a4Zz

And remember to let your Twitter followers know you have joined by including the hashtag #SCGCRadidas26rs in your tweets.

Extra Mile Incentive – terms and conditions

The race is on. Entries for London’s leading corporate running challenge, the Standard Chartered Great City Race are now open.

The 5k race, which this year takes place on Thursday 9 July will feature 5,000 runners from nearly 350 companies representing the industries of banking, accountancy, insurance, law and the media.

This year runners and teams will get the chance to be more sociable than ever at our ‘best yet’ hospitality area and we have spent the winter planning how to tell the world about your efforts to ‘Run for a Reason’.

So, tell us your reason for taking part. This can be simply to keep fit and healthy, have a laugh with work mates or something more personal, such as a cause that is close to your heart. What ever it is, we’ll help you share your reasons on your favourite social media channels using the hashtag #RunForAReason. Share your training and previous year’s race day photos and encourage your team-mates to get their trainers on.

Due to the race’s popularity, places have been allocated for a limited period to those runners who have taken part in the race before. However, runners wishing to participate for the first time can register their interest now and find out more about the race by visiting the official race website – www.cityrace.co.uk

In 2015, £10 from each runner’s entry fee will go towards the official race beneficiary, Seeing is Believing, a global initiative that tackles avoidable blindness. Standard Chartered has also committed to match every donation pound for pound.