Ambitious, but hey, why shouldn’t a Sheffield based 10k kick off with a bit of a fanfare? Frankly, promising the red arrows en route was only the beginning of the delights on offer at today’s tententen! I’m genuinely touched by the efforts everyone went to to give we the marshals (not sure I can absolutely speak for all of us, but hey ho, why stop me now) such a grand day out!
So today was Sheffield TenTenTen day. Yay. The blah de blah on this is:
What is the Sheffield TENTENTEN? Its an exciting and creative multi-terrain trail 10k, attracting over 1000 runners each year the event is well supported and has a fantastic atmosphere. The first edition was on the 10th October 2010, hence the funny name, and has stuck ever since.
Who is it for? This is an all inclusive event, anyone from 4 upwards can compete in the 2.5k Fun Run, and 15 upwards for the 10k. All abilities are represented, many have started their running journey at this event. The range is wide we have even had international standard representation (see course record). Then there is the rest of the family, bring them along to soak upthe atmosphere and support.
The Course The course has been created with a twist of creativity and innovation. Its not your regular road race, it is run on grass, road, paved paths and woodland trails. Its a really nice mix, and introduces novices to the world of trail running gently. The course does have a few lumps and bumps, twists and turns, and all adds to the fun.
We hope to see you on Sunday the 9th of October 2016 in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield
This time though, instead of running (slowly) as in the previous two years, I was marshalling. Yay. The night before I wasn’t quite sure what to do in the way of race preparation. I mean if you’re running then it’s all about the carbing up and tapering isn’t it. I wasn’t so sure with the volunteering role. I mean, would I be better off just resting up, or should I practise a bit more with the directional pointing and clapping bit, and maybe even have a go carrying a clipboard with an authoratitive but friendly air? Tricky. I was rather regretting having sold myself so assertively in the sign-up email. What if they did some sort of audition at the 8.00 a.m. rendezvous and I messed up on say the decibel levels of my clapping (which can happen if you are wearing gloves or just miss when you are trying to get the palms of your hands to connect). The shame of being drummed out of the marshaling team would really sting. I’d have to give up running, move from Sheffield, the whole of South Yorkshire, blimey, maybe I should start planning a complete relocation to Phnom Penh just to be on the safe side? I didn’t want to peak too soon with the applause either, and find I had nothing left in the proverbial bag for the actual event. It’s more stressful than you might think, this anticipatory angst regarding the responsibilities that go with marshalling. Oh well, stick with what you know. Carbe Diem it was. They do say don’t make any big changes prior to race day don’t they? Why buck the trend.
Anyway, I managed to wake up OK in the morning. It felt like the middle of the night to be honest, but I was up and about before the first of my two alarm clocks had gone off. Performed my necessary ablutions and packed my back-pack. Not forgetting my glasses in case I had to showcase my literacy skills and e.g. match names to T-shirt purchases on a list of tiny typed out names. I’ve been caught out like that before.
It was a very autumnal and crisp morning. Perfect for running. I was wearing pretty much every item of clothing I possess, as standing around in a dark wood in the cold can be a lot more chilling than you might think. And not just in existentialist terms. Consequently I was wearing: two thermal vests (one long-sleeved, and one short); my usual running top; chunky fleece; fuscia winter coat and an incredibly long and gorgeous scarf that I’ve only recently rediscovered( which once belonged to my Dad and says it was made in Peru so might even be made of alpaca fleece); some thermal leggings; winter socks; over-trousers; gloves; light weight walking boots – oh and my Smiley Buff too. The advantage of wearing so many clothes was that I could have a reasonable expectation of keeping warm, but there were a couple of disadvangates. Specifically, firstly, I was a bit worried if I fell over onto my back I’d be trapped like an up-ended tortoise, and unable to get back on my feet without outside assistance (at best humiliating, at worst actually fatal). Still, at least I wasn’t wearing a turtle neck, that would be a real high-risk clothing item and make me guilty of contributory negligence at the very least. Secondly, it meant that disrobing was quite an operation so I basically would need to give myself three days notice if I needed the loo, or just wet myself. Oh well, I’d worry about that should the situation arise…
I felt pretty cheery going down to Endcliffe Park. Today was always going to be a good day. I was already seeing some pretty significant up-sides to being at a running event without doing the actual running. Copper and gold leaves in the trees were lit by early morning rays of sunshine bursting through the thinning leaf canopies. (Not to be confused with canapés, which would be a different order of ‘extraordinary’ viewed in the same way). It was really beautiful. Pleasingly, on my way down I espied a pumpkin* growing and was able to take a gratuitous squash shot. I know! Great start to the day. *I know it’s probably a miscellaneous squash rather than an actual pumpkin, but still part of nature’s bounty I’m sure you’ll agree.
On the way down my excitement was building. There were indeed red arrows about, and also blue ones, and some police tape cordoning off areas where the organisers were expecting trouble of some sort or other. Presumably only more experienced volunteers with riot shield use training would be deployed there:
As I passed down by the bottom pond it was like arriving at a festival. Or being present at the start of time. You could hear music, and bright shards of sunlight were slicing through the trees back-lighting the scene. It looked spectacular, definitely like the dawn of time. This was going to be epic!
I arrived at the volunteer assembly point just a tad before 8.00 a.m. which was the appointed hour. There were already quite a few people gathered. some even already in position at the T-shirt distribution point. It was well organised (I expected nothing less, I think it would be a nightmare volunteering at a badly run event, but I knew this would be fine and dandy). I had a precautionary pee in one of the handily positions portaloos before reporting for duty. It was quite an undertaking given the amount of clothes I was wearing, but I think practising by taking Roger in with me (fancy dress horse) on a previous event meant I accomplished this in relative calm. Nobody actually commented to my face about the sounds of thrashing around that had been rising from the portaloo whilst I was within once I came out again, so I take that as a win.
My name was on the volunteer list, which is always a good sign, and we were directed to select first an orange hi-vis jacket (a jaunty alternative to the more conventional luminous yellow I thought, and appropriate for the autumnal theme), then I went in search of a T-shirt. The T-shirts for this year’s tententen are really nice. First year I’d actually voluntarily wear one in public. Grey is flattering and the logo ace. The sizing was a bit on the snug side. I tried on the medium initially, but that was optimistic, instead I went for the large. Mind you, I was hoiking it over pretty much my entire wardrobe, so perhaps I was expecting a lot of give in a medium size uni-sex offering. There was then some companionable milling about, waiting for others to assemble and making small talk.
I wandered around wishing I was George, and taking some random snaps to document the occassion with mixed success. However, pleasingly, I soon encountered my Cheetah Buddy, who after months off with injury is now re-entering the running fold, but like me volunteering today. Cue selfie. I still need to practise these, but hey ho, records our presence on the day. I know the pictures aren’t great (no, really, I do) but I like how they get the sort of architectural structures of the tents against the sky line. I might steal better photos from the official ones once they are made available, in the meantime you’ll have to make do with these, and your imaginations. Good luck.
After a little while, I found I was on the list for the ‘bottom loop’ group. Clearly, this was going to be a particularly vital role, with volunteers in no way arbitrarily allocated to position, but rather comprehensive skills analysis dictating who stood where. I felt a bit for our volunteer co-ordinator, who made the rookie error of trying to remember all our names, which was heroic, and polite, but ultimately unlikely to be achieveable. We all blinked at him, unhelpfully. Oh well. A little troop of seven of us headed off. We were basically on the small loop of Sheffield parkrun if that helps. One of our number had a particularly responsible role being right at the start. As there would be first a 2.5km kids’ fun-run, then the official 10k race, with different routes, he was tasked wtih moving a stake with a bit of tape in it from one position to another AND back again to indicate the direction of flow for the lead runners. I know, quite an awesome level of responsibility. He was very tall, so I think the height advantage also helped, he’d be able to see trouble ahead much earlier than any of us more vertically challenged. We abandoned him at his post, and trudged onward. He did well – slight spoiler – but here he is in action at the start of the 10k. Great authoratitive overseeing and confident pointing technique I’m sure you’ll agree!
I was designated marshal point two. This was just outside the children’s playground if you are interested. I’d have to do both directional pointing AND supportive clapping. I was aided with some dome-shaped cones, which I positioned rather brilliantly, to guide runners away from the wrong turning and towards the correct route. Would you call these markers ‘cones’ as such? I honestly have no idea. On reflection, I might have made more of alternating the colours say, and possibly that slight misalignment of the curve should have been corrected with the benefit of hindsight, but not bad for a first attempt.
Once in position, I wasn’t sure what to do. I hung about for a bit, and after a few minutes, some of the other marshals who had now been put in position a bit further on from me appeared. We did some companionable team-building, mainly involving selfies, sharing running anecdotes and laughing at how much we were worrying about getting it wrong. It is amazing any of us are able to live independently, or even dress ourselves, given the collective angst we were sharing about whether we’d be able to meet the demanding responsibilities that were about to be thrust upon us. It was hilarious, it seems I was not alone in suddenly imagining I’d point the wrong way, accidentally run screaming into the runners demanding they’d stop causing a pile up and major race incident or in some other, as yet unimagined way, inadvertantly sabotage the whole event. Why we were all so insecure I can’t adequately explain, other than by saying it was because we were all runners, or supporting runners and we all really wanted the day to go well. Our concern wasn’t an indication of our imcompetence (necessarily) but it was a measure of how much we cared about getting it right. So if you are wanting to volunteer at any event, not just this one, just do so, you’ll be fine. Be brave and stick your hand up to have a go. You can fake it to make it if necessary.
We did see the funny side of it, and it was reassuring to share our collective apprehension. If you are thinking of volunteering but suffering a similar disproportionate worry about getting it all wrong on the day don’t let that stop you. It really was pretty straight forwards and whatever ‘stupid question’ you may have, others are probably thinking it too. Yes, dear reader. We did go and look at the directional arrows and query which way the runners were supposed to be going. It is in fact, blindingly obvious. The runners follow a bike out, and the arrows were comprehenive anyway. Also, the way this loop was set up at least, we were within shouting distance, if not actual sight of other marshals, so you aren’t really on your own. Or if you are, it’s only in the existential sense that we are all alone in the end, but let’s not dwell on that now. Instead, here are some selfies with my new best-friends forever. Aren’t we awesome:
One of these runners is doing the Sheffield 10k in a couple of week’s time; one is doing a Portugal marathon, and one has secured a ballot entry for the London Marathon 2017 but doesn’t know it yet. Can you work out who is who? What do you think of my scarf by the way? Pretty comprehensive neck coverage I think you’ll agree.
After a bit of faffing, we took up our positions in anticipation of the event building up momentum. Runners started to arrive, some known, some unknown. I had to exchange a few sharp words with one running buddy from Smilies who OPENLY GUFFAWED at my michelen-woman effect outfit. I pointed out to her that she shouldn’t ridicule marshals in this way because ultimately her safety, health and well-being might well depend on how well I carried out my marshaling duties at the event. Besides, I’m sure the ‘layered look’ is probably very in vogue for the winter months, I’m probably just (as always) ahead of the trend. I can rock layered, see me work it:
I wouldn’t say she was chastened exactly, not at all even, but I put this down to her pre-event race nerves. We made up afterwards so that was OK. Post race proof of this below. You can tell this is after the race, because she has a medal, I no longer have my hi-vis, and the nice people at the cafe have put up loads of special bunting just for us to mark our reconciliation. Also, don’t let on, but when I actually saw some pictures of me in action in my clothing choices for the day, I did have to tacitly concede she may have had a small point. I still think ‘abominable snowman’ was going a bit far. I shall endeavour to rise above such ridicule, but have logged it for future reference nevertheless.
I got into my stride responding to enquiries. I liked this bit. I forgot at first I was wearing a bright orange tabard, so was a bit taken aback by random people approaching me with questions. ‘I must have one of those approachable faces’ I thought to myself in self-congratulatory tones. It was good when I knew the answers. Most frequent questions were ‘Where are the loos?’ ‘Where do I register?’ ‘Is there a bag-drop?‘ and ‘what’s going on here today?’ Reader I was brilliant, I got all the questions right. Just shows, you know more than you realise sometimes, and also shows that all those precautionary pees I’ve had over the years have really paid off! It was great, I felt massively competent based on extremely little expertise, it boosted my confidence!
The domed cones were a bit more of a challenge though. You would be amazed how many people trod on them, fell over them, or otherwise couldn’t cope with the challenge of stepping over them. It was extraordinary. Toddlers couldn’t walk past them without scooping them up, which I felt mean having to prevent. They treated the cones with real delight, like some unexpected and rare treasure come across on their ramblings. The world is indeed full of wonders when you are discovering it for the first time. The dogs made me nervous, all that sniffing, I was sure one would cock a leg at one point though none did. One alsation puppy was terrified of them, cowering as it approached the line of cones, and backing off at the end of its long lead as its accompanying human tried to reassure him/her that there was no cause for alarm. Eventually it bravely raced past them tail between it’s legs, and then jumped about with relief and delight at having negotiated such a terrifying and unknown obstacle safely. One particularly law-abiding citizen came to a dead halt in front of them, like it was a mile high wall of razor wire with watch towers atop it and flood lights as well as weaponry trained on her. ‘Is it OK for me to pass?’ she enquired, magnanamously I let her through. Get me. Powerful, but fair in how I chose to exercise that power.
The junior 2.5km race was due to start at 9.15 a.m.. We were all on tenterhooks awaiting the start. Confusingly, from a distance, there was a warm up taking place, and so there were lots of loud counting down ‘three, two, one’ shouts. I kept thinking this was the cue to start, but in fact I think it was either counting down numbers of squats or to start of whatever routine. It all helped build the mood of expectation though. Fab! It was Trib3 leading the warm up apparantly. Go them (thanks tententen facebook page for the photos).
Then, bang on 9.15, after a little encouragement to all the runners to shuffle back behind the start line, the shout went up and they were awf! It was ridiculously exciting! My those kids can sprint! The bike shot off a bit ahead of them, and within next to no time the lead runners were whizzing past me with barely a glance in my direction despite my awesome clapping, encouraging shouts and helpful pointing. It reminded me very much of the tour de france when it came through Yorkshire. I hung around for hours, having a lovely time with other spectators, and then when the pelican or whatever it’s called, eventually came through it was ‘blink and you’ll miss it!’ Phew, mission accomplished, marshaling duty one complete. Most of the children were running with enthusiasm and confidence. I must be less cynical or marginally more hormonal than I realised, because I actually felt quite emotional watching them. They were great. There were a few adults in the throng keeping their offspring company (or maybe warming up for their own race), only one poor child at the back seemed completely overwhelmed by it all and was not having the best of times. I hope they cheered up and carried on, but well done to whoever it was for even making the start line. It’s a ‘proper’ event after all, with registration, race numbers, warm up, timing, crowds, it was bound to create a bit of anxiety for some. I’m loving the photos. Check out the marshal high-fiving one of the runners (his son I think) in one of the photos. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to get just a little tear in the very corner of your eye at seeing that surely… I’m sure you don’t really want to be called out as a heartless bastard on a lovely autumnal day like today? Look at that logo, isn’t it great? Definitely best yet. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, I love everyone today, it must be the post-run endorphins kicking in by association with runners if not an actual run 🙂
The great thing about my volunteering position, was once everyone had passed, I could move up to watch the finish. That was brilliant, so much joy to behold. Also, and I particularly enjoyed this aspect, exhausted parents/nominated responsible adults comprehensively outrun by their sprinting youngsters. The smiles on the faces of these runners wearing medals that probably should have been confiscated on health & safety reasons as they weighed more than the average young runner’s head were brilliant. That bling would have any self-respecting runner grinning from ear to ear! I’m not sure about the appropriateness of posting a picture of a random unknown child I don’t know on a blog post, so here instead is one of a known celebrity Sheffield running dog to give you the general idea. (Credit to Skip at frontrunner)
So then, that race done and dusted, there was a bit more loitering waiting for the main event. Well I say the ‘main event’ but to be fair, that’s not true if you were in the fun run, so each to their own. I regrouped with my BFF marshals, and we debriefed on our pointing and clapping techniques sharing top tips and expertise. One’s child had run in the event and rather sweetly they came to show off their medal. It really was enormous in comparison to the child. I reckon, it would be like the average adult walking around with a canon ball round their neck. Still, there were loads of vouchers kicking around for white house physio so hopefully no irreversable damage. And, to be fair, I’d carry round a medal that weighed as much as a canon ball if it looked as awesome as that, and I’m over five. More familiar faces appeared. People from parkrun, people from Smiley Paces, some I know a bit from using their photos here. Monday Mobsters came by to say hello – I made a mental note to look out for them as they ran past. When you are marshaling, loads of people come to talk to you. It was really good. Some were running or spectating. One runner was supporting his son and suffering from runner envy, reminded of his more competitive days. Some were random people who were perplexed about having stumbled on this parallel universe of geometric tents, ostentatious bling and colourful lycra. One new to sheffield was delighted to discover she had this running venue on her doorstep (Sheffield Hallam parkrun recruit – tick). I also managed to recruit some people to the Longshaw Trust 10k so that’s good. Not everyone was delighted by the event. Some were seeking to take evasive action, others were really pleased to be able to plonk themselves down at the edges and watch everything unfold. Well, we certainly had the weather for it did we not?
There was quite a carnival atmosphere at the ‘event village’ catering options, running gear options, backage drop options, portaloo options and pens for the runners. All needs catered for. I can’t explain why Frontrunner had its own dedicated emergency response vehicle (that’s another way of saying ambulance in rather more words). I also don’t know what the animal is or which end we are viewing, but all pics are they not. They are courtesy of tententen team, George Carman and Steve (Mossienet) Frith. Please consider donating to Weston Park Cancer Charity in return for free photos – they raised an incredible £1500 last year and are hoping to smash this target this year! 🙂 https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/TENTENTEN2016 :
So, more greeting of arrivals, more hanging about, adjusting my dome-shaped sports boundary marking cones (I’ve just looked them up on the interweb, and that is their technical term apparently). Time went quickly, as the 10k route was in a different direction, I actually went up to watch the start. I thought I’d get some pointing and applause practise in early. Again, a prompt start. Watching all the runners sprint off was amazing. When you are taking part in an event you never really get a proper sense of the continuum of ability; the assortment of body shapes; ages; running styles; club tops; causes – everything really. I think there were around one thousand participants, and it took quite a while for them to stream past. Long enough that I realised I was going to have to really pace myself with the clapping once I got back to my marshaling point as my upper arms were killing me from just this one fly-by of runners at the start! It was fun looking out for Smilies, though there were rather fewer Smiley vests than I’d expected, and at least one Smiley was in disguise, donning her work-sponsored T-shirt in preference to her club vest. This is what comes of being a wage slave I suppose. I still cheered her though. Mysteriously, couldn’t spot the Monday Mobsters… strange. Only later when they came to say goodbye did I find out they weren’t running. Doh. I’m hardly Ms Marple am I, not wearing running gear was perhaps a clue had I but had eyes to see it… Oh well.
Back in my position, it was only about 15 minutes or so later before the elite runners were snaking back through the park, first lap down. There were about three of them way ahead of everyone else, it was extraordinary. At the risk of stating the obvious, they can really run! The rest of the field was a bit behind, and then the mass of other runners started flooding through. I’ve used the analogy of wildebeest on migration before, but really, that is the best image. This unstoppable organic mass bearing down on you. It would crush anything in its path. I got into my pointing and clapping stride, but cheering was harder than expected. I should have done some voice exercises to warm up. Still, I did my best! ‘Great running‘, ‘good job‘, ‘Go Smiley‘ (but only if it was actually a Smiley running), and calling out random names or club names if I had time for the letters to come into focus before the runner sped on by. I did worry at one point if my commentary might be deemed as patronising, but then again, if you’re running the fast one’s wont hear/wont care, and others like me are grateful for any support vocalised and don’t generally waste time grading it on levels of acceptability. Even if they do, I can say hand on heart, no-one stopped running to come across and critique my cheering skills or express annoyance at my choice of phraseology, so don’t worry, just follow your instincts on that one if ever you are required to cheer runners on in a public place.
Looking at my ‘action shots’ of the day, I have to reluctantly concede (sorry about the split infinitive) that the outfit isn’t one of my finest is it really, oh well, astoundingly, I don’t do running related activities because of the flattering clothing choices it offers up! Just as well frankly.
The next 20 minutes or so was a blur of directional pointing and clapping. It then started to get a bit stressful. The problem was, faster runners started to lap the slower ones and were coming to the finish. The slower runners were caught unawares and what with the corner, and spectators milling around trying to get a view of their mates completing the first lap I was really worried the finish funnel would be blocked. I was shouting frantically to people to keep clear of the finish but, not unreasonably, the spectators couldn’t really fathom what I was on about. Fortunately, the psychic race organiser appeared like some Deus Ex Machina to save the day by expert relocation of some of my dome-shaped sports boundary cones to signify the finish funnel. Disaster was thus avoided. Phew. Here is a picture of him in action:
It is eye-opening marshalling. Most people were really lovely, but some seemed to have zero awareness of what was going on around them. People sort of wandering into the path of oncoming runners who seemed surprised and amazed when I asked (politely, I was very polite) to keep clear. It wasn’t even that they were making a point about it being a public park and their entitlement to use the paths, more that they didn’t seem to compute that taking on maybe 800+ runners piling towards them by ambling towards them in the opposite direction wouldn’t end well. Some runners had children supporting them at the sidelines, and periodically whoops went up as high-fives were exchanged. A few people asked me random questions when I was in the midst of particularly high-pressure directional pointing. Timing people, timing! Oooh, the adrenalin was certainly flowing. It was one such question about – oh I dont know, where to buy duck food or something – that prevented me from either enquiring about how her shorts were faring or indeed setting off a rousing two-way ‘honey’ ‘g’ call and response chorus in honour of our elite Marple Smiley Runner, so that was a missed opportunity now lost for ever. Probably just as well. I particularly asked that people today kept me abreast of any wardrobe malfunctions after compression-shortsgate last year, but no official notifications were made to me so I presume all was well.
A different set of challenges ensued once a proportion of the runners had finished but others were still passing the half way point, or coming through to the finish themselves. There seemed to descend a sort of runners’ haze, which I’ve experienced, but not really witnessed in such graphic terms before. A wall of runners stumbling towards me, making their way home with medals and goody bags along the finish funnel in reverse, and back out from whence they came. They wore dazed expressions, and just walked five a-breast right out on the course, completely obstructing the entire route. With apologies if it’s a distateful analogy, but it was honestly like those photos you see on the front page of newspapers catching the aftermath of some horrific disaster. You know the one, black and white images of victims emerging from collapsed buildings, hardly able to comprehend what has just happened, zombie like, with dust billowing behind them and ruins all around. They stagger onwards, unresponsive, unhearing and (in my view) insufficiently compliant with marshal directives such as ‘clear the course, clear the course!’ Amazing!
I put some thought into what to shout by way of encouragement to the runners more towards the end of the pack. I started by shouting ‘sprint finish‘ as my position at the second lap was a few hundred metres from the end. But then again, I remembered how I loathe it if people pressurise me to do more than I want on a run, and also I remember how at the Round Sheffield Run (still my favourite race of all time) I strategically kept walking as long as I was hidden by the handy concealing hedge, only picking up a ‘lumbering run’ (yes, that is a technical running term) once I was in sight of any spectators. I therefore amended my approach to a more ambigious ‘get ready for your sprint finish!’ If I say so myself, this was an act of creative genius. Why? Because serious runners, could indeed do just that, but the have-a-go crowd could if they preferred simply share a hollow laugh or knowing wink, enjoying the hilarious use of irony at such a moment. Nice bit of marshal/runner bonding.
Another grand thing about my location, was I got to see lots of people I knew as they departed. I’d hoped to be able to take some action photos of runners too, but abandoned that plan early on. It was more fun clapping etc, and you needed to be able to see what was going on. Marshalling wasn’t difficult as such, but it did require more concentration than I expected to encourage people to give way to runners. Also, runners’ haze again, some participants who had ended up on their own for whatever reason, and presumably didn’t know the park, did get confused about where the route went despite me pointing, all the arrows and the crowd lining the route. ‘Which way?’ was a plaintiff cry more than once. I didn’t mind, it met my criteria of making me feel busy and important, without actually making any great demands on any specialist skills, always a bonus. The sense of feeling important is a pretty rare occurence in my own life, alas.
Hobbit buddy survived her run in tact, which is nigh on miraculous give the state of her feet and her recent near-death experience! She performed some good photo duties, and I took some delightful snaps of her too. She looks very bling happy indeed. She hasn’t just been shopping by the way, those are the bountiful goody bags dished out at the event, no wonder she was so happy.
Surprisingly, well I was surprised, you do remember who has been round, and I was aware that at the back were a group of charity walkers a bit behind the main throng. After about 100 minutes, it was clear everyone else had finished bar this group. We weren’t quite sure what the protocol was around when to leave our posts. I was happy to stay until the very end, but my BFF marshals appeared saying that they needed to leave. We weren’t sure what to do, but we could espy our volunteer co-ordinator taking down tape on the finish line and collapsing tables. The others went off to ask, I stayed put because I wasn’t in any particular hurry, and as a slowbie myself I appreciate it if there is still some evidence of life when you come in. My new BFFs reappeared. We were to stand down. The group were with the tail marker and OK to finish together. Fair enough. We said our farewells, handed back our hi-vis and said emotional farewells. Not all that emotional, but we had bonded, I’d definitely recommend volunteering it was a hoot.
We were in time for the prize giving presentations. I went across to see what was going on. A lot of the winners had already departed (not died, just gone home) but there was still a good line up on the very impressively proportioned podium. I decided that rather than go for the obvious winners shot, I’d try and get one of the photographers instead. It didn’t really work. The particular shot I wanted, was one of all the photographers with their impressive lenses, viewed through the legs of the winners. However, just in time it dawned on me that if I did indeed attempt that shot, I’d also have photobombed every winners’ shot, and probably not in a good way. Oh well, I tried. It was my attempt at a tribute to all the photographers who turned out on the day and laboured unseen behind their magnificent lenses to capture all that unfolded on the day. We thank you.
By the way, STOP-PRESS, my stealth photography project wasn’t wholly successful, but on the plus side, this photo is hilarious, so that’s OK then!
Just as the prize-giving was concluded, the final finishers were in sight. Those of us still around were encouraged to gather round the finish to cheer them home, that was a really nice gesture. Aw, what great people are behind this event, the attention to detail, and the inclusivity is really impressive. Here they are, the final returners I mean, and some of them put in such a turn of speed with their unexpected sprint finish, I’m afraid they got a bit blurred. Sorry about that. You will also see though, that I have captured some great volunteer marshal shots. See the skill with which they are proffering those medals. That’s quality technique I’ll have you know – but it doesn’t mean it couldn’t be you dishing out the honours same time next year!
Free from responsibilities, I wandered about picking up friends along the way and hearing their running tales. Very soon I came across cheetah buddy who appeared with another volunteer (her new BFF from the top loop), both were stuffing their faces with burgers – they’d got pretty chilled on the Hanging Water Road location which is shaded, and were in calorie deficit replacement mode. Still, I could be sympathetic at their plight, yet not miss out on the chance of shooting at an open goal. ‘Is that what you’ve been doing all morning?’ I quipped with great originality and hilarity ‘scoffing buns?’. How they laughed at my merry jape!
Cheetah buddy correctly identified that my real problem was jealousy. For reasons I couldn’t quite fathom (being cold from volunteering mainly) she and her marshal buddy had got free food! It seems I might also, AND there was a vegetarian option of lentil and aubergine soup, which was actually delicious. I was quite peckish, well breakfast was now almost 8 hours ago. I wondered if I could get a roll wtih my soup. Wasn’t technically on offer, but they had them for the burgers after all. ‘Can I have a roll with my soup please?’ ‘No, we don’t have any rolls, sorry‘. I was completely non-plussed. I could see an abundance of rolls. What was going on? Fortunately, another staff member came to my assistance, correcting her colleague. ‘ We have lots and lots of rolls, it is simply a question of the vernacular, of course she can have a roll, but it is not a roll, it is of course, a breadcake!’ Me and my soft-southerner incomprehensible ways eh? Still, all’s well that ends well. I got my soup. I got my roll/breadcake, and I even got to tell a story I’ve not had the opportunity to share in ages. When I was about 17, a friend of mine had a job at Thorpe Park (amusement place near Staines in Surrey). She spent an entire summer telling every American tourist who visited that she was sorry but ‘no, there are no restrooms available within this attraction‘. Hilarious. Well, Americans can be demanding cant they, how was she supposed to know they didn’t mean they wanted a bit of a lie down before taking on the next queue for a roller-coaster or whatever? Incidentally, that food place had a particularly great view of the portaloos from their tent didn’t they? See how I’ve framed it with such artistry in the shot.
Once we had our soup, and buns, and whatever, we plonked ourselves down on some free seats outside the cafe. This turned out to be an unexpectedly good move. Not only did we score big time, finding ourselves joined by regal smiley, her talented offspring and her dedicated celebrity photographer, but we were also joined by another Smiley compatriot who has PROMISED to do the Wingerworth Wobble next week (this is important as I am in fear of doing it on my own); but also, I found if you sat there long enough people brought you free things. No really, I came back laden. Firstly, cheetah buddy procured some amazing chocolate fudge brownies – which admittedly she had to pay for but I didn’t, so I may be regarded as a social parasite but I still got free food thrust upon me. It was from these people I think:
Then, after a bit, someone was offering free bunches of bananas. Get in, you can’t go wrong with a free bunch of bananas. And Then… ‘free rainbow drops, anyone want free rainbow drops!’ I know, real multi-coloured droplets from actual rainbows! There didn’t seem to be a catch, this was no child-snatcher. I don’t even think I like rainbow drops (what with my body being a temple and everything) but I got a bag of them too. Though on reflection, we may have despatched a child to procure them for us. Still, result.
Finally, my cheetah buddy had brought me bountiful produce from her allotment, so I went home with freshly harvested apples and pears. Not a bad haul. I’m slightly worried that I brought nothing to the literal or metaphorical table, as I wasn’t even knowledgeable enough about camper vans to join in that conversation, but perhaps I’m holding back on my more bountiful qualities so I can use them for a special occassion. Once the supply of all the free things had apparently been exhausted, we started to depart. It had been a good day. However, amazingly it wasn’t over, there were more surprises yet to come!
We went to watch the parkour play area for a bit, the athleticism of those young people is amazing. In fact, it was inspirational. For reasons that made sense at the time, we decided to find out how hard exactly it is to do a crab as an adult. Regal Smiley and her Celebrity Photographer have recently discovered it’s way harder than you remember from your childhood. We decided to have a go. My approximation at this is not awe-inspiring, but may have comedic value. It’s so strange. Your head gets stuck, like it’s nailed to the ground, and your arms don’t quite work either. Have a go, you know you want to, and you might amuse any young person in the vicinity more than you know. Think of it as a random act of kindness, and maybe choose a less public place to experiment though be mindful of your safety. Don’t lock your front door in case emergency services are needed, and keep a mobile phone in reach, even if you have to activate it with your nose or eyebrows. Here is the experiment and the joy it brought about. You’re welcome.
So, that was that. Home. Thanks all for a great day. Well done to the race organisers. It can be lonely at the top. Well, so they say, I suspect this is a team effort, but I like the narrative that allows me to include this picture. Also, special kudos for matching top and shoes, that’s classy! Thank you runners and marshals all, both are needed, there would be no event of any worth if either side of that equation was a no-show.
On the way home I took some photos to capture the season’s colours. Potentially pretentious granted, but why not? I find you can still have post-run endorphins even if you haven’t actually run anywhere, it was grand! I loved everyone, and I loved the world… well, I did until the latest news bulletin, but that was always inevitable.
Oh lawks a lordy, I almost forgot, for those of you who care, there are results available here for the tententen 2016 and 2.5km fun-run.
When I got home, I got to enjoy my top. You get a free one for volunteering, also free entry to next year’s event, which is a very good deal really, because marshaling was no great hardship, au contraire, it was a lot of fun. The best thing about this top is that it is flattering. I was going to wear it forever, but unfortunately got baked beans down it within hours of this photo being taken, so that plan didn’t quite work out, you might be luckier. Just don’t eat baked beans wearing it, or wear a bib, or learn to get food in your mouth on a fork first time. Takes practice, but I understand it can be done.
Same time next year? Go on, go on, you know you want to!
If you are a seasoned volunteer, you might even be wise enough to bring your own chair. Serious pros caught in action here!
Oh, and another thing, there are lots of photos available on facebook, though as in previous years, the organisers ask that you consider making a donation to Weston Park Cancer Charity in return for free photos – they raised £1500 last year and are hoping to smash this target this year! 🙂 https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/TENTENTEN2016
and finally, if you dont have a life, or need a procrastination tool because you are supposed to be working towards your masters or whatever, then follow this link for all my running scared posts on the ten ten ten follow this link
You’re welcome. Happy running.