Sunday was a beautiful day – a cold start which turned into blue skies and brilliant sunshine. A great day to be out and about, but probably not the best day for running a half marathon, nor for marshaling said race.
The Chippenham Half Marathon is a fantastic race, and I say that as someone who has run it twice previously. It has an interesting route that goes from the town out into the countryside on little lanes and then back into the town, friendly locals, amazing marshals, a great medal and t-shirt, and it’s not expensive to enter. A couple of years ago, the race was voted in the top 5 half marathons in the country by readers of Runner’s World. With all this in mind, I felt under just a tiny bit of pressure to be an amazing marshal. As the race is organised by my running club, Chippenham Harriers, we were all press ganged into helping.
Those of us with bikes were given a section near the start, and then a section near the end (with a speedy short cut bike transfer between the two). I was at just over 1 mile, and then at about 12.5 miles which meant I saw everyone at the start when they were still fresh (well -most of them), and then nearly at the top of a sneaky hill just before a final downhill stagger to the finish.
Having frozen on the ride into town, I then baked in sunshine for nearly 3 hours (thank heavens I fight to slap sun cream on). Honestly, the way the runners were complaining you’d think they had it hard. They just didn’t think of me standing there, with sore hands from constant clapping and little voice left from shouting encouragement. They probably never consisted the danger I was putting myself in by lying so blatantly on a Sunday – I was expecting a thunderbolt from above each time I shouted “looking fresh!” at a staggering runner. I was also a little worried a really hacked off runner might just come over and punch me. Well, when you’re suffering, being told how fabulous you look might just be the final straw.
I did have one large, sweaty runner ask me to hold him up whilst he stretched out his hip. That was surprising and rather unpleasant, but apparently all in a day’s work for a marshal.
Despite working so hard, I had a fabulous day. I really was tired as I cycled home, but maybe not quite as worn out as the runners.