Let me start by saying that 99.9% of my experiences at running events have been nothing but brilliant. From grass roots club events through to the slick, shiny machine that is London Marathon, the UK has some incredible running events of all sizes on all surfaces, organised by some fantastic people.
But things have not always been perfect. When things do go a little wrong, you can get easily get annoyed, but most of the time you just have to smile.
Many years ago I took part in the first running of what has now become one of the UK’s biggest marathons. In the closing mile there were no barriers to keep the crowds behind and I – and many of my fellow midpackers – had to weave our way through the Sunday crowds in the leg crippling final stages. It did give the event a slight Tour de France-style anarchic feel though.
Another time was a particularly high-profile triathlon in its early incarnation. To be frank, the marshalling was woeful and in the cycling leg you had to take an educated guess which cordoned off route to follow…because the marshals themselves didn’t even know!
Lucky for me, I chose the right way. My friend didn’t and ended up short cutting the whole course. Three months of training down the drain. But do we laugh about it now? Of course.
I think the experience that amuses me most is a grassroots cross country league which I committed to one year. It was my first year of club running and I was enthused by the prospect of some hard, competitive racing.
Seems the organisers were not quite so optimistic of new runners like myself taking part. The promotional leaflet listed the venue of the second in that year’s races as “same as last year”.
The hard work of race organisers goes hugely under appreciated. The vast majority of the time, everything works like clockwork because of the hard work beforehand. So when things do go slightly awry, please don’t give these unheralded heroes of our sport a hard time. Sometimes, it’s better to see the funny side.