The joy of marshalling


Have you lost your running mojo?

Are you carrying an injury which means you just can't race?

Are you pining for some better weather to get your race season underway?

In the past I have found myself in each of these positions - the first two much more often than I would like and the third because I'm really a bit soft for all this outdoor adventuring!

In the past, while wondering when I was going to lace on the Hokas and actually get some proper running done, I sometimes found myself drifting further and further away from the runners I call friends and the club I love being part of.

If you are suffering the same sort of predicament, there is an easy solution - indulge yourself in a spot of marshalling.

You know who these people are - they are the hi-vis heroes who actually make races happen.

They are the hi-vis heroes who stand in the middle of nowhere and make sure that you don't get lost.

They are the hi-vis heroes who both "flag" and de-flagf" the course, again hoping that you don't get lost along the way.

They are the hi-vis heroes who take your money, make sure you are properly registered, start your race at Trawden O'clock (usually something like 8 minutes after the appointed time!) and are properly timed in at the end.

They are the hi-vis heroes who dream up the routes and put up with the mild abuse about them afterwards (1).

You see them every time you do parkrun, you see them at every race of every sort you go to.

Sometimes you think there might have been more, especially on a tricky off road race with plenty of opportunities to get lost along the way.

Many of you have had a go, some of you join in the fun all the time.

Many of you say thankyou to every single marshal or helper you see at every race, your thanks are always much appreciated.

At Trawden AC we have a hardcore bunch of people we know will turn up and help out for just about any race.

It needn't be a long-term commitment, sometimes your "work" is done quickly, sometimes you might be out all day.

All the roles are responsible ones, but there is no pressure to do anything you don't want to do.

And it can be a lot of fun.

You get to predict who is going to finish first. Not much of a challenge at the moment (2)!

You get to predict who is going to end the race by saying: Good route that, tough! (3)

You get to marvel at someone setting a new PB for swear words in a minute (4)

You have to stifle a giggle when someone turns up at The Lancashireman CP4 resembling a Mississippi Mud Pie on two legs (5)

You wonder how some people just float round a course when others look like they need an iron lung, some stabilisers and a tow-rope to get round!

You get the chance to see the wonderful faces your clubmates pull when pushing themselves towards the finishing line.

You get the chance to see just how blue your hands can go while on finishing line duty, armed only with the parkrun timing app on your phone!

You get to watch some of your good friends set off like a four-year-old chasing an ice cream van before limping home some time later.

You get to meet up with people you wouldn't normally see - when I run it is usually with nice, firm tarmac under my Hokas, so many of the people who love twisting their ankles and getting filthy would otherwise be strangers to me.

You sometimes get the chance to hand out prizes at the end of the race - it could even be pies and beer!

And finally, and most importantly, you get to keep in touch with your running friends when the odds might appear stacked against you for some reason.

So next time Jamie or someone else from the race committee asks for some help, give it some serious thought.

And if your Sundays are too busy for a spot of marshalling, help out at parkrun.

There really can never be enough people to make sure that we all get to enjoy our running.

1) Maxine 'Biscuits' Betts
(2) Martin Kipchoge (copyright Jamie McIlvenny) and Dawn Tibbs
(3) As above
(4) Paul Marsden
(5) Ian Barton

News Archive