Report from a first-time race marshal
Kent Coastal Half Marathon!
I, along with many others answered the call from my club, Thanet Roadrunners, when the appeal for volunteers to help ‘man’ this event went out.
This would be my first-time volunteering at such a large event, having previously only volunteered at the Pegwell Parkrun on a few occasions, which have all seemed to go okay-ish!
I was asked by Maryanne, the marshal coordinator, where I would like to be stationed and we agreed on the entrance to King George IV Memorial Park on the Broadstairs side.
In the week leading up to the event, I was duly issued my instructions, hi-viz vest and items of sustenance, to keep me going. The instructions were clear and left me in little doubt what was being asked of me on the day.
On arrival at my marshal point , I parked up, got my camping chair unfolded and awaited the arrival of the first runners, the event having started in Palm Bay at 09:30 meant my arrival at my marshal point around that time meant, unusually for me, I hadn’t left anything to the last minute.
Marshal point 29 on the cliffs above Dumpton Gap is a glorious location at any time, but with the glorious sunshine and gentle breeze on Sunday morning, it really couldn’t get any better. Dog walkers and passers-by would stop and ask me if there was an event going on, or if they already knew, what time was I expecting the runners to come through, one couple asked if I was doing a survey of how many people was entering the park!
About 10:10, I saw the lead cyclist and runner come over the brow of the hill, which pleased me as it at least meant I was in the right place! As the lead cyclist passed (I think it was John) he told me the “Thanet are leading!” and sure enough Bradley came by showing a great pace, with encouragement given, that was the first of many to pass this way.
As each runner would pass, I gave them encouragement and applause of congratulations, I was soon able to recognise the various running club vests and was soon giving shouts of “come on Dartford!” “Well done Sittingbourne” “looking good Egerton”, as well as the non-club runners, you get the idea, although I kept my most enthusiastic support for my fellow Traccies, of which it was great to see so many taking part.
Reactions from the runners varied from “thanks marshal”, nods of acknowledgement, smiles or totally being in the ‘zone’ and focused on the job in hand.
Very early on, one runner asked if there was a bin as they had a bottle to get rid of, I said leave it on the ground by my feet and I would dispose of it, that opened the floodgates as more and more bottles ended up at my feet, so much so, that in a short space of time, I looked like I had a serious drinking problem! I guess this is the fun of being at a marshal point just after a drinking station.
As 99% of the runners came up from Dumpton Gap on the road, I was always conscious as to the interaction between runners and passing motorists, but I am pleased that all the motorists slowed and/or gave a wide berth to the runners for which I gave an appreciation of thanks to the drivers as they past.
In what then seemed a very short period of time, Bill & Ian, the tail runners, passed my point and my role for the day was over, other than checking that I had collected up all the discarded bottles and other litter and ensuring this little part of Kent looked pretty much as I found it.
I have to say, I really enjoyed being a marshal for the first time, it was great to think you were contributing in some way as well as representing the club to the public and visiting runners alike.
Can’t wait for the next one, well done to all my fellow marshals!