A big bunch of us decided to help out at Cardiff Half this year to see it from the other side. I got the bug helping out at the expo for the World Half Marathon Championships last year so was really looking forward to it. I decided to be a start/finish Marshal.
Fast forward to 07:20am on the day and in my sleepy state I become aware of a knocking noise – I’ve totally slept late and through the alarm and my mate is knocking my front door! I somehow manage to get ready in 15 minutes and we head down to City Hall for our briefing.
My first job is guarding the entrance to the white numbers pen making sure only those runners get in and pointing everyone else at their respective pens.
Soon enough the first runners set off and we shout encouragement to everyone in the pens as they move forward before setting off. Some folk look deep in concentration, some look utterly blasé, and a large % look scared witless – cue encouraging comments and seeing smiles appear on their faces – I know I’ll see them crossing the finish line later.
Once everyone’s set off we high tail it back to city hall for tea, a baguette and a bag of crisps – but we don’t have long as the first runners will be across the finish line very soon!
Once we’re back out, the gang and I help staff the medal area.
I see really high class club runners coming in and am just in awe of the times they are achieving and how good they look considering what they’ve just done. It’s amazing. I can’t help thinking about how I’ll never be this good – but that’s ok, that’s just the way it is!
I soon enough start to see friends coming in – the Aub, Alex, and Tom – Tom coming in at 1:31 something having done a warm up 6 mile run beforehand. The man is nuts. There is something really special about seeing mates at the finish of a race. Some of us do 10ks and halves and whatever almost like it’s just getting out of bed, but I don’t know anyone who crosses the line and just thinks “yeah, whatever” – it’s always an amazing moment and giving a medal to someone at that moment is really special.
As some of the folk nearer the back of the pack start to come through, it strikes me how much of a big deal a half marathon also is for those who are out on the course longer, staying on their feet and keeping going – it’s a real feat of endurance and an amazing achievement.
For every person coming across the line laughing there is someone who has been through a real ordeal, and you can see it on their faces – but even then they have a great look of pride, having completed such an amazing achievement.
Today will definitely have given so many people the bug and they will be back here next year as well as entering other races. There really is very little better than catching the eye of a finisher and them seeing the medal in your hand, just waiting for them. It’s brilliant.
Seeing a big race from the other side is well worth doing. It makes you really appreciate the organisation that goes into it but most of all sharing these brilliant moments with thousands of people would be hard to beat. Give it a try!
Thanks to Dhana, Ryan, Liam, Gerda and Eli for being great company today. We made it to the end – about 7 1/2 hours after we arrived
Was pleased to meet up with Debbie & Mike in the bike cafe after for some nice grub and followed it up with a meal out tonight. So tired now!