Memoirs of a Marshal

Sunday six thirty in the morning and the alarm on my phone starts bellowing 'Pump it' by the Black Eyed Peas. Why on earth when most of  Norfolk was sleeping would I get up at such an ungodly hour? Its because I'm a runner; although I wasn't running, I was marshalling a cross country race for my running club. The reason is because I love being part of Norwich Road Runners and without volunteers races such as this couldn't take place. The friendship and mutual respect given by and for each member is priceless.

So having showered to bring me into the land of the living, dressed in appropriate warm clothing, and my newly purchased Wellington boots from Tesco's I drove to Norwich to pick up a fellow runner and friend whom needed a lift. It was first time for the both of us. Marshalling a Cross country that is!

We arrived shortly before the designated time, both of us slightly bemused as what we were to do. Gradually fellow clubmates and runners turned up, donning marshalling bibs, we followed suit. Our commander and leader Rachel arrived with her handyman Richard who was second in charge, splitting us in two groups we were led out into the woods. As we reached each marshalling point one of us would be assigned to look after the runners as they passed that point. I managed to get one of the two wettest parts of the course and was so glad I had wellies on instead of the old army boot I'd originally planned to wear. The mud was six inches or more deep and as I found out the water obstacle was chest high on some runners.

Prior to the start, the woods were full of chatter and laughter as we marshals frolicked. The race got underway and a throng of runners of all ages approached. Three distinct lines formed as each tried to find the easiest route across the ditch and through the mud. It was at this point I realised my role was more than cheering and supporting. Especially for the junior runners whom needed help crossing the deep water.

By the second lap I was in a better position to advise on the shallowest route through. Now I thought I was wearing suitable clothing but as I discovered! Lots of runners jumping into muddy waters results in a lot of slashing! Needless to say I got soaked by the foul smelling residue from that splashing. Jeans no longer blue but a self tanning brown. I got far dirtier in those woods than I expected. Did I enjoy it? No I didn't, I loved it. I found the whole experience a huge privilege and tremendous fun. I took a lot more away with me than just the mud.