Dearly beloved runners,
We were gathered recently at the Tamar Trails, alongside the Beech Cafe and the Runventure Trail Running Hub for the inaugural Rollercoaster Trail run. Described by a few as a nice, short, flat, dry run! I say run as although it was a race in the traditional sense, ie first past the post, prizes and all that, to many it was never a race. Just the chance to run around a waymarked, marshalled course with all the admin and organisation taken care of seemed enough. From my end, everything seemed to work out okay. Yes there were last minute marshalling dilemmas, timing and results hitches, t-shirt size issues and some creative parking, but on the whole, to date so far no dramas. I've made some notes on what can be improved on but in essence I just want it to remain simple. After all it's just running! I grew up in Derbyshire, around races that cost peanuts, went out of town, over walls, across and invariably through rivers, down lanes. No kit list, no water stops (see rivers above!) and no goody bags, t-shirts or medals. The winner got a tankard or a tin pot, and maybe the race entry fee back, or the price of a beer. You turned up, registered and ran. Results were published in a local newspaper and that was that. Races have now evolved, and expectations have increased similarly. Risk assessments, race reports, medical cover, insurance, etc are all part and parcel of a race organiser's to do list. Not to mention, marking the course, retrieving said marks, finding willing and enthusiastic marshals, time keepers and a suitable venue with parking, loos, catering and stunning scenery.
On the eve, I had all the nerves that I'd missed something. I re-ran the course early doors, tweaked signs, cleared larger sticks, answered last minute messages, re-assigned marshals and ran around with my hair on fire. The top half may have looked like a swan (no cheeky comments, just humour the analogy), but underneath the surface I was paddling like mad, frantically trying to be everywhere at once. The start went off without a hitch and approximately 33 mins later, I began to greet each and every finisher. The course I knew was tough, but also stunning, and behind every grimace, swear and gasp at the finishing line, there was also a smile.
No one complained, and even if people got lost, tripped up, got the wrong finish time, position or t-shirt size, no-one moaned.
In fact, to date, I have had many favourable comments about the event. The organisation was time-consuming and often stressful and I have never been a great delegator, but luckily I didn't have to be. Fellow trail runners, friends, and my wife came to my aid without me even having to ask. "Do you have a tail runner? I'll do that" "Where do you need me?" "You need some help? I've entered but happy to marshal or whatever you need?" "Here's my laptop, do results on here!" "Yes we will sponsor, here are some trainers, rucksacks, t-shirts and hats for prizes" In the end, I needn't have worried. But I still did, and will again next year, I'm sure! So was it a success? I think so. And the main reason? Runners, and in particular trail runners. They just love to run. They are a broad group of like-minded people of all shapes, sizes and ages who do it because they can. Some are very fast, some are not so fast, but a mile is a mile, a trail is a trail, and a hill a hill. They are friendly, kind and extremely warm (especially on receipt of cake!). The event and its organisation was just the seed, and the running public made it a success.
Yes there is a cost to enter and there is an argument that running should be free! But as someone mentioned to me (after the race while stuffing a chocolate peanut slab into their grid), the setting, trail, scenery, atmosphere and buzz were worth every penny of the entrance fee. There are many races around every weekend, all over the country, and all are enhanced by the cheerful masses that time after time pay up and enter. In the main, not for a medal, or a t-shirt, but just to be part of the experience.
Thank you #trailwarriors for making the Rollercoaster a pleasure to host and making my personal experience amazing. ***STOP PRESS: PROVISIONAL DATE FOR NEXT YEAR: 25th November 2017 (TBC - dependent on Cornish marathon date)***