I started my training before Christmas and everything was going well until it snowed. I had the misfortune of slipping on ice in January, fracturing both wrists and was no longer able to train. I was gutted!
Fortunately I had a place in the ballot so I was able to defer until next year. And instead of running it as planned, I volunteered to help at the Primary Finish. I had helped last year, counting timing chips and thoroughly enjoyed it. It gives you a different perspective of the race. I was counting timing chips again this year, except that they had changed - they were now tags about the size of half a credit card. At the briefing meeting the weekend before we were given our uniforms and yes, you guessed it, we had red jackets with the obligatory white trousers and black caps.
On the morning of the marathon I was up at what felt like the crack of dawn (actually 6am) and had to get to Farnborough Station for 7am to catch the coach up to London. On the way to the station it felt strange to pass a number of other people wearing their uniforms. I had a chuckle and thought "I bet I know where you’re going!"
Once at The Mall we met up with our team leaders and went to see what jobs needed doing. The ramps had already been set up but the medals needed putting on racks ready for the medal supply team. It was quite a big job sorting more than 37,000 medals into bunches of about 20 and tying them to the racks. After that, it was back to the counting huts for a team briefing before the elite runners were due in. Two people from the counting team were needed to hold the finish tape for the Mini Marathon runners - I was one of those selected. It was great to see the kids crossing the line in such great style. There were some very promising runners and I even got to see myself on the telly!
I missed the men’s wheelchair finish but was privileged to see the women. We heard a commotion on the Mall as the three leaders were vying for position. The winner had the biggest smile I had ever seen - to think that was her second marathon in a week! Amazing! Sadly they were too fast for me to get a photo.
We had a brief break for lunch (at 10:30am) and then it was back out to watch the elite men and women finish their races. They all looked amazing. There was a brief lull and then the fast club runners started to come in. I don’t think I have ever seen such a bunch of skinny-looking men! Sorry chaps, if you’re in that league!
We took it in turns to collect the tags from the tag snippers and every time I went out someone eyed up my bucket as if they wanted to throw up in it! At first we just emptied the tags into one bucket, but as the number of runners reached a peak it was easier to just swap buckets. Counting the tags was much easier this year - no Tyvek tape to remove and the wire ties came away easily.
I wanted to be there when my training partner Lenny finished. We had been planning to train together and Lenny bravely carried on after my fall. She had plenty of support from other members of our running club, Hart Road Runners. I kept asking Helen and Judith (who were snipping tags ) "Have you seen Lenny yet?" Then I heard a shout and there she was. She looked so fresh and very pleased with herself. I was so pleased I had been able to see her at the finish.
After that, we carried on collecting and counting chips. As the number of runners started to thin out the ramps were dismantled and put away. Then it was time to get the coach home. All the volunteers received silver versions of the runners medal. A very enjoyable and satisfying day.