A day out marshaling C2C

I can just about cope with a 5:15am alarm five days a week signaling that I should be getting up ready for work.  But add in a 4:40am alarm on the sixth day and that one is a killer!
Having said that, I found it much easier to get up for marshaling yesterday than I ever do for work as it was somewhere I very definitely wanted to be!

Yesterday, when my alarm rang out in the middle of the night I pulled myself out of bed and pottered round the house to collect my clothes and food I’d laid out the night before.  Having worked at Thames Trot 50 last year I know just how important it is to a) have a lot of food with you and b) wear a lot of layers.  Therefore, in the build up to Country to Capital 45 I made sure to really think about what I needed to take to stay warm and with a full belly during marshaling duties!

A thermos full of hot tea (more to hold than to drink!), a nakd bar and two pesto, mozzarella and tomato rolls made it into my backpack.Packed lunch for a marshal

I had a strappy top, old marathon t-shirt and club hoodie underneath my thick coat and wore my super warm bobble hat to keep my ears warm.  There was snow forecast!

Steve, Race Director of Go Beyond had ordered all of the regular crew a new Go Beyond race team hoodie top and brought them along with him.  So once we had arrived at the Shoulder of Mutton pub in Wendover for the start I switched my club hoodie for a Go Beyond one.  I love how super soft new hoodies feel inside.

Go Beyond crew hoodieMy first job for the day was on the registration desk and this is a marshaling job I really enjoy.  I love meeting and greeting all of the runners and answering any questions they have.

Country to Capital registration deskThere were four ‘Walkers’ in our entries, but no ‘Runners’!

Walkers at Country to CapitalWe had several busy moments, the worst being when the train arrived at the station and a whole herd of runners descended on us at once.  We got through everyone in time though and the last runner came through at 8:29am ready to begin the race at 8:30.  Although the race start was delayed ever so slightly just to ensure that everyone had made it out on time.

It was cold out and once the last runner had taken their race pack out with them I nipped outside to pass over the no-show list to the guys in the chip timing van (mainly so I got a chance to see the runners off on their adventure).

Country to Capital race startAlthough a little chilly on the start line, the conditions seemed good and there was no ice on the roads.  Minutes later though and heavy snow began falling down.  It made for some pretty pictures from Adrian Howes the photographer.  (Like the one below.)Country to Capital in the snowClearing away the registration desk didn’t take too long and soon I was jumping into Colin’s car to be driven along with his wife and another marshal to Checkpoint 3 where we were due to be on the food station by 10:30.  It always amazes me when I’m sat in the car just how long it seems to take to get to places that normally I would run.  Or in this case, that 300 other runners had made a start on.

Checkpoint 3 was at the marathon mark on the course, and when we arrived still quite early on in the day with no sign of the van of goodies yet we headed to the closest cafe and inhaled plates of breakfast.  Mine was beans on toast and definitely both warmed me up and filled me up.  It wasn’t long before the van arrived and then we set to unloading 620 bottles of water, two large refilling tubs of water, several boxes of gels and tablets and ‘enough food to feed a small village’!

Checkpoint three at Country to Capital(Not all food is on show there.  That was just the first batch of food we put out for display!)

Country to Capital checkpoint 3

And then we waited.

Country to Capital checkpoint 3We were a little concerned when we heard from the guys on Checkpoint two that their first few runners had already been through and we were yet to receive our timing dibber for runners to scan their chips in as they arrived.  It arrived in the nick of time though – barely 10 minutes before the first runner came through our checkpoint.

The first few runners coming through is always a manic experience – they shout out what they want and I always feel like I’m not going quick enough for them or getting their order wrong as they grab their stuff from our outstretched hands and run straight through along the canal.  After the front runners have gone through things relax a little though and we can get in a routine of topping up food supplies on the table, clearing away rubbish, helping runners get items from their bags and filling up their water bottles.  There is always something to do.

I love marshaling at ultra events as the field of runners stop and chat with you and the race is much more relaxed than at road events over shorter distances.  I also end up learning so much from being on the other side of the field for a day.  I spent a while talking to one of the guys that completed Dusk ’til Dawn 50 in October on his third attempt.  I also got the chance to meet and chat to the lovely Steph, Cat and Susie out on the course and catch up briefly with Peter, who was part of the Men’s Running/Women’s Running Operation Ultra team alongside me in 2013.  It seemed like half of the field out there I had spoken to at some point on Twitter in recent months.  Can’t wait to read some race recaps guys!Checkpoint three banner on Country to CapitalThis was the view we had whilst waiting for runners to appear around the corner.  We never saw the snow at Checkpoint three and to be honest I felt nice and toasty most of the day.  We were lovely and sheltered stood down by the canal and around the corner from the bridge.  Sorry to all those marshals sat out on the first two checkpoints covered in snow!Checkpoint three banner on Country to CapitalMy first question when I saw where we were to set up our feeding station was “Has anyone ever fallen in?!”  The path was quite narrow in a lot of places and there were a lot of dog walkers and cyclists out as the day went on.  Apparently no one ever has fallen in though, and yesterday was no different (thankfully!)

We had two of our own runners out there and were happy to see them come through looking strong and on target.

Once the last of the runners had been through and taken what they needed for the rest of the race it didn’t take us long to dismantle the table and move the leftovers out onto the road to wait for the van whilst munching on leftover falafel and cocktail sausages from the table of goodies.

I tried to keep up with the #C2C hashtag on Twitter for the Go Beyond Twitter account on the journey home.  The winners were in long before we had begun to think about packing up with the first male home in 5h 12m.  That is crazy.  It’s not much longer than my marathon PB time, and that was nearly 20 miles less and run on flat road!

I was knackered by the time we returned home a few hours later and fell asleep instantly sat bolt upright on the couch.  Another early night for me and another potential race penciled in for next year’s calendar.

What is your favourite food to spot on a feeding station at a race?

14 thoughts on “A day out marshaling C2C

    1. We were luckily quite sheltered behind a bridge and alongside a hedge so I never really got too cold.
      I always forget now that food on shorter distances is an alien concept! Best not go expecting any snacks on some of my half marathons I have booked in this year!

  1. I really wish I could run this race next year! I might have an opportunity to, but again…navigation. I might have to put out a plea on Facebook for someone I can follow who plans to run 9:00 miles dead on…that would be my major goal for 2015, as I definitely didn’t run a race I was proud of at the Grim in 2014 (I mean I was proud to finish, but I really want to push for time more if my leg will allow it). I was actually trying to enter on the website but the only links so far all go to charity entries, and I can’t raise £200! I could just about scrape the 40 odd for entry as listed…I just hope it doesn’t sell out before I figure out why the links aren’t working. I also wish I’d signed up for the Thames Trot as all the 50 mile races in my region are brutal in terms of terrain (the Lakeland 50 looks way beyond me) – I must admit I thought it was far later in the year than February!

    Lucky runners in terms of the weather! We just seem to get all the ice up here even when it’s not snowing. I wish I could move further South because I absolutely hate being in the only region where it’s impossible to run.

    I always love hearing about your Marshalling experiences and I admire you a great deal for giving so much back to the running community. I would be very boring and look for bananas at aid stations, or perhaps dates if you’re looking for slightly less conventional running fuel.
    Jess recently posted…Posts That Piqued My Interest #3My Profile

    1. I am hoping to run it next year as well Jess. It has had so much great press on Twitter over the past few weeks and I think I would be able to zone out quite a lot running alongside the canal. Much nicer than a long flat road run at least! I’m pretty certain that the navigation is not overly difficult. There is a little bit of navigation required at the start – but at the start you will be near lots of other runners anyway. There is a long stretch where you just follow the towpath until about 3 miles before the end where you turn off to head towards the finish. You should be able to enter online for 2016 now here… http://gobeyondultra.co.uk/events/country_to_capital_2016 Let me know if you have any problems and I’ll have a chat with Steve.
      There are still a couple of places remaining for the Thames Trot if you did want a place. I think there are four places remaining?

  2. Mary,
    Can I just say a big thank you for all your volunteering efforts at the C2C. I was one of the two runners who came through first at your checkpoint, and it genuinely worried me afterwards how rude and ungrateful we might have sounded as we rushed through shouting out what we wanted and not hanging round for a few more seconds to chat and express our gratitude for the CP staff.

    We couldn’t do races and get all the positive experiences out of running without guys like you. Your selflessness doesn’t go unnoticed but we’re usually in too much of a rush to say so. Please pass on my thanks to the rest of your crew. Hope you all had an enjoyable day out putting yourselves at our disposal.

    As it happens, the pair of us got caught and passed by the three guys behind, so we maybe should have stopped and fueled up a bit. Karma is very quick these days!!

    Dan A

    1. Thank you so much for your comment Dan. All but one of us on our checkpoint are runners ourselves, so we know how it is when you just want to crack on in a race! We didn’t consider you rude or ungrateful. Just glad we could be of some assistance on your run, even if we did (probably!) come across a bit startled and bumbly! Sorry to hear that you were passed later on – I’m sure there was no karma involved.
      I have passed on your thanks to the rest of the marshals at CP3. You can be assured that we did have an enjoyable day out marshaling. Two of us felt very antsy and wanted to get out on the course and the other two thoroughly enjoyed their breakfast at the local cafe so a good day was had by all!

  3. Great work! You sound like a brilliant marshal :-) I always feel so grateful to any marshal (even parkrun) as there’s just so much hanging about and nervously waiting. I always try my best to say thank you – I know when I’ve marshaled before I always find that quite nice when a runner says that to me.
    I don’t normally take any food to be honest as I’m quite fussy (anything that requires a lot of chewing gives me a stitch) so I’ll probably just grab water.
    Anna @AnnaTheApple recently posted…Am I mad??My Profile

    1. Yes, I always make a point of thanking marshals when running through. Usually with words, occasionally just a nod of the head (the times I’m working REALLY hard!)

    1. Yes, it must be difficult running as a vegan. We had several people ask for the vegetarian options on Saturday so we were glad we’d made the decision to keep the items tucked away out of sight, otherwise I am sure we would have run out!

  4. Yay! Great write up and a top marshall award for you. I’m slightly concerned that I was the last runner out!?

    The go beyond cake was definitely my favourite food station spot, although chopped up Mars bars and dates always put a smile on my face too.

    Hope to be able to return the favour soon

    Steph x
    Stephanie @ A Magpie in the Sky recently posted…Tried and Tested Pins 7My Profile

    1. And top runner award for you! You weren’t the last runner out but I won’t lie, I was a little concerned ten minutes before the start when I was going through the remaining names in my box and spotted yours!
      I have never tried dates when running before as I’ve always been put off at the thought of them but I love the nakd bars and the main bulk of those are dates so I really must give them a chance sometime!

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