You may have read my Meet your Max race report from 2012 and from that you would have deduced that I am not a great fan of this event, but this year I decided I would return in a different guise……as a race marshal. A role that I have adopted before, and enjoyed:
- This means no pre race nerves.
- My mobile phone might just stay on the right side of the “U Bend”.
- I would avoid getting muddy.
- And the need to be assisted off obstacles along the route would not be required.
So, what would I require for this task?
Well maybe a waterproof? No, the sun is out and so waterproofs can stay in the garage.
Wellies? (Almost had a Freudian slip/typo error here) Not required. Tactfully the race directors have positioned me away from the water feature.
Whip? Yes, now that could be very useful to encourage any slackers in this GP race.
Now many years ago, in fact before a lot of you were even a twinkle in your parent’s eye, I had a go at horse riding. I spent more time picking myself up off the floor than I did sitting on the bl—dy nag, but I use to have a riding crop. A type of WHIP used to try and keep the unruly beasts under control. So I put the word out that this was an item I was after and Diane managed to locate just the item for me.
Race day arrives. Covert face book messages suggest that said WHIP will be available for me to collect at the race HQ. Fab!
I decide to walk up to Truro Rugby Club, the Race HQ, with one Chocolate yogurt cake at my side, when a car draws level and a man of a certain age asks “ Do you want a lift” ……don’t panic, it was only Nick kerb crawling with one very cross Race Director in the other front seat of his car. I climb in to be informed that a crisis had arisen, apparently some miserable b—–d had gone and removed all the posts and race direction arrows between, St Clement and Malpas. Nick had his suspicions as to who might be the offender and I will not repeat what he said he might have done to them, should he have caught them at it.
I spot Diane in the Rugby Club Car Park; she approaches sheepishly and discretely hands over said riding crop. A bit like an illicit transfer of secret information that spies might engage in. Head turning from side to side to see who may be watching. I think we get away with it. Diane’s reputation is intact……mine won’t be.
Crowds are starting to gather on the sunny banks around the Club house. There are already people partaking in “Falling Down water” but thankfully they don’t appear to be in running kit. Having said that, alcohol can make for soft landings!
One gent asks me where the changing rooms are. I don’t mention the word “Skank” and point him towards JFD who is fully conversant with these facilities. It takes a brave soul to want to go in there willingly. Or so I believe. (I add this hurriedly, in case you think I’ve actually been in there)
Time for pre race briefing and I’m allocated point “13”. Unlucky for some, but not for me. I’m to stand at Malpas Slip, 4.2 miles into the race and at the bottom of 118 steep rough and uneven steps. Fab.
I’m on Tarmac, not far from the pub, but sadly on the shady side of the river.
The view is beautiful. I am looking out over the Tresillian River to the very sunny “Ferry Side Cottage”, a much painted vista and can see numerous young people having fun in canoes in this sunshine. Whereas I am now having to pile on three layers of clothing and thin gloves, to try and keep warm.
Time to fraternize with the locals. I note that the theme tonight in Malpas, is groups of women of a mature age (That’s older than this old croc), dressed in smart casuals heading in the direction of the local hostelry. We make polite conversation, with the yellow tabard and whip I am sporting, raising a few questions. I did manage to ascertain that these ladies were all off to the “Heron Inn” for their monthly birthday get together. Sounds good to me, I am almost tempted to wander off and partake in a glass of something red with them, but that would have been a severe of dereliction of duty, punishable I expect by being dunked in the “Water feature” on this course. So I stayed where I was and decided to opt for a flirtatious mode instead.
I now had a couple males of a certain age approaching, obviously out for an evening stroll without their wives, who were probably at the pub. It didn’t take long for them to note the “WHIP” and a conversation as to the why’s and wherefore’s ensued. They informed me they would be back….
I now have a bigger challenge to deal with. Whip, Jelly babies, camera. Two hands, three objects. Which one would I forgo?
The whip had to stay.
I might need to eat a couple Jelly Babies to keep the hunger at bay, and it’s a tad too dark for photography in this location, so camera loses.
I spot the first runners approaching at about 7:33pm, Tony Brewer, the lovely Colin and Dan Alsop. They look remarkably unscathed by the ordeal so far and not in the least bit tired. But they are slightly lacking in humour, so maybe this might not be the time to unleash the whip or Jelly Babies. I just point them in the right direction and smile.
A short while later, two more male runners approach and they are wearing expressions of pain on their faces. If a picture could tell a story, this one screamed PAIN. It was enough to convince me that I had made the right decision in choosing to be a Marshal!
A slight interlude, then the stream of runners increases in volume. The whip is unleashed and I inform them all that they are in HELL. The steps on the other hand would lead them to heaven, but only if they smiled and looked as if they were having fun. I offered them a sweetener……well a Jelly Baby and the odd tap on the bottom. (Bottoms were selected carefully. I had to be sure that the recipients would be willing and unlikely to report me to the athletics authority, fingers and toes crossed on that one)
Traffic along the stretch of road I was marshalling had been busy prior to the runners arriving at my location and then became sporadic. This though gave me the opportunity to unleash the “Whip” for its second purpose, and that was keeping the drivers under control in a good old Pony Club fashion. Car approaches, I turn to give them one of my stares, raise WHIP, point it at them and then to my right. There is not even the slightest thought by them of increasing their speed or disobeying my orders. Windows are lowered and questions are asked, but a tilt of my head, glasses perched so I can look over the top of them and a slight twitch of right wrist is enough to send them on their way.
I have no idea how long I am stood at Point “13” wielding my “Whip”, but time flies. I’m having a ball. I did though hear one female runner state as she passes by “Great, that’s one less in my age category” what a cheek. I didn’t bother to tell her that she had NO CHANCE of a prize, just because I was marshalling. She could endure pain and find out later that Revis, Jayne and others in my age cat had passed before her!
A few runners attempt to turn right prematurely, but find themselves facing a closed garage door. Did they not realise that I am actually stood in my location for a reason, to mark the start of the steps leading to heaven? Maybe they were not worthy, this could have been a test or a sign?????? Well my sign read “Foot path”!
Just before the sweeper and his two helpers Plus Justin the last runner in this race arrive, loan male of greater years than me, returns in his car. We’d discussed the virtues of the “Whip “earlier . I fed him a Jelly Baby or two and he left with a smile on his face. At least I had made someone happy.
Keith arrives in his car, collects me and my “Whip” and I feed him and Chris who has also arrived the left over Jelly babies. I’m whisked back to the race HQ for a pasty. As we enter the car park I spot a sight that turns me quite faint and I break out in a flush. A large white minibus is parked ahead of us and through one of the windows I spot Richard, he appears to be naked. OMG surely he hasn’t heard about me and my WHIP. He moves slightly, I raise my eyes long enough to see he is merely topless; I’m safe to pass and locate my pasty. A St John’s ambulance was nearby should I have required their help.
There are some complaints coming in from a few runners about the fact that there isn’t a veggie option available at the pasty collection point. Did these herbivores not realise, that this event is not for the faint hearted and food would only be for the carnivores amongst us. Well actually, in truth, veggie ones were requested but didn’t materialise.
So, all in all:
- Car park. Appeared to be working well, but cars still had to park out on the road. This race is too popular.
- Toilets. I used them once and once is far too often. Refurbishment or demolition is a priority. There was some toilet roll available at that time but late callers might have had to utilise their paper hankies if they had any.
- Race HQ. Not really needed by the runners, when we have been provided a beautiful sunny summer’s evening and there is grass and picnic tables to sit on. Jan and co were well provided for inside and the bar facility was well frequented.
- The course. Well you can describe it as scenic, verdant, picturesque, challenging, undulating to hilly, muddy, damp, amusing, painful, delightful, horrendous, nauseating, laughter inducing, fun (ah not sure about that one) but it ain’t for the faint hearted. Failure is not an option, you will smile as you finally cross the line and a sense of achievement will be felt by all………………..Really!
I’ll be back next year that is for sure!