Totally kidding, although I have to say that the effort required to marshal a 26.2 can't be far off from the effort required to run a 26.2. Honest! That's what I was telling all the tired runners passing me at mile 17. I was trying to make them feel bad for me but not sure they had much sympathy.
Anyways, back to the day. To say that it started at the crack of dawn is for once not an understatement. I was up at 6 am as I had to 'report' to Zone 5 HQ for 7:30. Had I known how disorganized it would be, I would've slept an extra hour. Oh well...
After signing in and standing around for ages, I was finally assigned to help marshal the feed station. Thank goodness! I had started dreading the idea of having to stand at a street crossing for the entire day, so at least I was going to have something to do.
I've been reading lots about Clif Bars, so was extra decided to try them. We were only giving out gels and Shot Blocks (imagine chewy energy cubes) but Dave, the UK Clif dude, had brought along some bars for all of us to keep energized, full and fit. And they did not disappoint. Some may have accidentally fallen into my backpack for future emergencies...
After setting up and getting our roles (being a self-admitted loud-mouth, I was sent down the road where I was to inform runners of the upcoming feed station), there was suddenly a lot of standing around. It was grey and cloudy, raining on and off, and frankly, we were getting a bit bored.
Bringing the bib-chique
And then the action started. Finally. The race kicked off at 9am but as we were past the halfway point, we didn't have much going on until ten-ish. First, there was a parade of Vespa, Harley and Mini drivers (interestingly, half of them had fags hanging out of their mouths. Great advertisement for a running race) and then, then my friends, came the Kenyans!
Looking at their outfits again, I think there may be a sole non-Kenyan runner in there... Can you spot him?
It was really impressive to see them go by so close (the elite drinks station was directly across from the Clif station). Gosh, did they make running look easy.
Then, there was nothing for quite a bit. Then came another sole Kenyan runner. Then nothing. Then another. I was feeling pretty bad for them. They weren't running in their 'pack' or with a pacer. Basically, they had to run the entire race by their lonesome selves. Not good enough for the best, but much better than the rest.
G was on hand to take photographic evidence that I was really doing my job
And then, finally, came the 'regular' runners (and by regular I mean those runners finishing in sub-2:30!). It looked something like this:
And then it really kicked off and I had no more time for pictures. For the next few hours I was hooting and hollering, telling runners where the gels were, how great they were looking, high-fiving them and generally being an over-enthusiastic supporter.
The highlight of my day was every single time one of them would smile at me, say thank you, or, in a few select cases, even wink at me (thanks dudes!). Two supporters actually thanked me for doing a good job. ME! Who was just standing around while THEY were doing the hard work. Amazing! It really felt like I'd made their race just a little bit more bearable (well, in case they were in pain, wouldn't want to assume).
Before things got a little crazy
Halfway through the race the sun came out, the sky cleared up and it was suddenly a beautiful day! Go weather gods!!!
By around 1 o'clock we could finally stand down. Just in time as I'd actually begun to lose my voice.
I headed home cause I was shattered. Honestly! I had had no idea how tiring marshaling and supporting would be. After a quick power nap, however, I just couldn't stay away and so G and I strolled down to the waterfront and supported the last stragglers along the final 3-mile stretch of the race.
These runners were looking at a 7-hour finish, but you know what? Who cares. They were doing it. Yes, most of them were walking (although every once in a while someone would break into a gentle jog), but they weren't giving up and for that, props to them!
And what a beautiful day to finish 26.2 miles in Brighton! Later on I started chatting with a girl who'd just finished the race (so one of the stragglers). She told me that the supporters really made all the difference and were the main reason she managed to finish. If that's true for even just one person I cheered on during the day, then that's good enough for me.
Ya know what? Volunteering at the Brighton Marathon was pretty cool. Sure, it was tiring and a bit of a mission to get up and out that early on a Sunday, but it was worth it. If only for my Team Brighton Marathon hoody. Ha! I might just be back next year...
[I'd have included the big ole' Team Brighton bit on the back, but still haven't worked out how to do those over-the-shoulder selfies. Might need a selfie tutorial...]
Did you race or support last weekend? How did it go?
Would you ever consider volunteering for a race? Do it, you'll never look at marshals in the same light again.