Congratulations to all those who completed the Redcar Half Marathon on Sunday. In difficult conditions the race was a huge success....instead of my normal race report I am going to give you an insight into my day as Course Manager! I think I expended more nervous energy than I do in a dozen races! Here goes:
0530 - started on course putting out mile markers. The excellent and very comprehensive race report and the markings on the road made the job easier but the first decision was - put the mile marker on the exact spot using a wooden stake or put it about 10 metres further on using a lampost....I opted for a stake until I realised that no amount of hammering would get the stake in the ground...revert to plan B and see if I got any moans from Garmin-ites who would know the first mile was "long".
0600 - met the Course Health and Safety Manager to put the remaining signs, mile markers up along the Trunk Road. All going well so far and according to plan when we had our first issue of the day...the guys unloading the water and tables for the Trunk Road had delivered them to the wrong location. After persuading them that I wasn't joking I offered to help load the van back up. 4000 bottles takes some shifting!
0730 - Time to prepare for the Marshalls briefing - the race has involved recruitment of many marshalls...well over 40 on the course plus drinks stations and start and finish personnel.We opted for two briefings and I needed to get to the finish area for my briefing at 0830. Got there about 0745 and the playing field had been transformed into the event field, loads going on, lots of people starting to arrive for the Half Marathon.
0830 - The army has arrived...after issuing marshalls kit, drink and energy bar, T-shirts, ID badges, instructions I briefed the marshalls...my army of fluorescant heroes trooped away to take up positions on the course.
Next task was the wheelchair start..we had deliberated long and hard over the wheelchair start as the nature of the course is such that we needed to ensure no clashes of wheelchair athletes with oncoming runners at the very last roundabout....the race here was about the running masses vs the elite wheelchairs! And the winner was the running masses who all managed to clear the three mile point (albeit with a 5 min head start!) before the first wheelchair came onto the roundabout....phew!!
With all the wheelchair athletes safely home we awaited the first runner and didnt have to wait long as Graham Taylor from Jarrow and Hebburn brought home the field of 1191 runners home....I opted at this point to be on hand to greet runners as they crossed the line and work alongside the Race Referee (Dave Parry) Start and Finish Manager (Graham Hall) and the Race Director (Ian Donley). This was the most satisfying part of the whole day as the atmosphere was fantastic at the finish and it was clear that there were many first timers ecstatic at completing the event and others who were celebrating personal bests, completing personal challenges or pushing themselves to the limit! Fantastic....After months of preparation I felt both a sense of pride but also a great relief that the event had gone off with only one or two minor issues to deal with.
There has been loads of really positive feedback about the event which is fantastic - I've made a mental note to always thank the marshals and volunteers who have given up their day to help at the event - I dont think enough runners do this often enough but it is an absolutely crucial element of all events.
Now I can get back to my own training again - my motivation has certainly been boosted by my experiences on the other side of the fence!
A happy course manager!