We all love applying for races right? I mean! Who hasn’t sat there at the end of a busy week, glass of wine in one hand, empty wine bottle on the floor and a packet of our favourite branded crisps in the other and thought, oooooh that 5k / 10k / half marathon / full marathon / ultra / Tough Mudder looks like fun (delete as appropriate), I think I’ll apply. No? Just me? 🤔 I’ll get my coat 🙄😂
We think us runners have got the tough part, with our months of training in all weathers, watching our food, reducing our wine intake, buying new gear, salavating over new trainers etc, but actually making these runs happen for us is a mahoosive task that starts months and months in advance.
Here is a little taster of the craziness that goes on behind the scenes of our lovely races, as bought to you by my good friend Tills, who is a rare mix of being an awesomely amazing runner whilst also supporting every single person running a race….. and a cheeky looking chappy at that! … enjoy ….
I seem to be falling deeper and deeper into the rabbit hole of helping at running events and wow it really does open your eyes!
I have been, and still consider myself a ‘runner’ clicking pay now after deliberating costs, attending events and picking up my “free” medal/ T-shirt combo after the hours and hours of pain (why DO we do it again and again!!) I have always tried to, when my body allows, thank people (Hi 5’s count) for supporting , attending, assisting etc. but I’ve never really given much thought to the efforts made.
Recently I got asked to stand in at a rather large local running event, The Rightmove MK Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay and Superhero run …… yes they all kick off at the same time or crazily close together, and from the same place. It goes a little something like this, – 10.00 first runners leave the start, by 10.30 they should have all cleared the first roundabout (did I not mention main roads are closed for this?!) at which point the superheroes are released for their mile and a half dash, ok yes its aimed at kids …. And I’ve only done it once! They run up the same start as everyone else though which is lined with soooo many cheering supporting people, when they reach the traffic island before the roundabout they head back in the same direction from where they started before being diverted off and into a stadium finish (oh yes they take over a football stadium for this event… that was being used the evening before for a promotion gaining game!) All the superheroes “should” have all safely received their medals by 11.00 ish just in time for the first half runner to be arriving back at the stadium, his turn onto the home straight being the same roundabout the superheroes have just run to and from. While all the half runners are coming in a full marathon runner or part of a relay team will come flying past them but most of that takes up the road outside the stadium only and once the half tail has come in all the roads can be reopened apart from that one (pleasing the lady who couldn’t get her no. 6 bus I’m sure).
So as you can imagine a huge amount of logistics just around timing but let’s cover road closures first, the route runs along a main road for several miles including a loop in Central Milton Keynes, runners get to run along miles of closed duel carriageway before turning off and continuing through the lovely MK backdrop using its pretty bloody fantastic redway system (paths). The road closure instructions issued to the pro marshals, (yes a team hired to deal with them) were similar to a Bruce Willis film plot….. “Close Standing Way until all tails have passed, move into position to open Standing Way East and West but close North until all runners have cleared North section of the course, close South until superhero finished, where Ashland roundabout is to remain closed South” Yippee ki yay…. (Anyone else finishing this sentence off in their heads? 🤔😂 – Editor) And trust me that really is only a tiny snippet compared to the overall planning and logistics going into getting Milton Keynes and its grid traffic system back flowing as soon as possible. Below is a cheeky pic of some of the guys ‘n’ gals who helped….
And then we have marshals, these are the faces we all see and can actually thank but remember they all met a couple of hours before the big kick off to allow them time to get into position ready to clap and cheer thousands of strangers past and will be there all the way up to last knockings (no matter the weather), all with their instructions and lanyards in case of any incident of which there needs to be responders at, I was lucky enough to chat to a lovely couple that were at the event who cycled round the entire course with the runners ready to leap into action should there be a need.
If you get a goodie bag, those thousands of goodie bags have been stuffed by a team, all that water handed out, and gels, and timing mats, and music machines, and start lines, and mile markers, and arrows, and …. You get the idea – hundreds of hours of hard work on top of the hundreds and thousands that happen long before race day!
Yes I know I’ve not mentioned everyone, far from it I think, photographers, clean-up crew, DJ’s, pacers the list really is a very long one!!
All I’m suggesting as you read this is that next time you say “thanks” or nod in appreciation during a run really mean it!, maybe even think about how long they have been there, how much longer they will be standing there and what everyone involved has had to do just so you “mind that post” remember without people saying “I will help” these runs simply will not go ahead and certainly not as smoothly as they seem to from the runners POV, give a little thought that someone is watching over everything that happens and their primary job is to make sure you have the best and safest experience possible. Who knows thinking about the guys and girls in Hi-Vis jackets may even help you forget about your cramping calves, numbing quads and the fact your soul seems to be slowly leaving your body! 😉
Definitely some food for thought there! Thanks for writing for me Tills.
Until next time