Thursday 8 November 2012

Broadway Tower Trail Races - a view from the other side of the line

Normally, I only write about my own efforts or occasionally Nicola's.  Last weekend, for the first time in a while, I crossed the fence to the dark, hidden side of running: race directing.  The majority of that activity will remain dark and hidden - races are much like sausages: you enjoy them more if you don't see them being made.  But, here are a few reflections on the day.

Broadway Tower Marathon Start - photo courtesy of CM Running Photography

The routes for the Broadway Tower Marathon & Half Marathon have been under design for quite some time.  The original route was planned in the spring and in place early in the summer, with the diversion (the one I designed, not the unplanned ones) decided a bit more recently.  They include some of the most beautiful views the area has to offer, even on a rainy day.  On a nice day, the route can be absolutely stunning.  Over the past few years, these trails have been fantastic to run on, with occasional slippery bits and plenty of good hard-packed, often rock hard ground.  With the ridiculous amount of rain we've had locally this summer, some of the fields turned to sticky, muddy, horrible mires - especially in the 3rd quarter of the marathon course.  Having run nearly all of the route on the Wednesday and Thursday before the race, I am full of admiration for all of the competitors.  Conditions underfoot were tough out there on Saturday (but not a patch on how bad it was amid Sundays downpours!), and if the sun hadn't come out I dare say we would have had a regular transfer service running from the 20mi check point to the race base.

In every event, there are plenty of unexpected surprises on the day, for runners and organisers.  I can't imagine how difficult it would have been for everyone without the telephone safety net.  A few people needed some extra directions and reassurance they were on the right route and phoned to check.  A few probably should have made calls but didn't.  For anyone planning to run on the trails, whether racing or training, it's always a good idea to take a phone.  A quick text or call to say "I'm lost," "I'm OK, just really slow," "I'm really cold and need some help" can be the difference between a good day and a disastrous one.  Personally, I've used my phone for all of the above.  It's also worth knowing/remembering that a text message will send in low signal better than a phone call will connect.

I didn't get the chance to speak to everyone as they crossed the finish line, but I tried to catch up with as many as I could, and seeing the sense of achievement on so many faces was fantastic, and something I won't soon forget.  

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