The Reluctant Runner Turns Magnificent Marshal!

Ealing Half Marathon Sunday 27th September 2015

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It starts the minute you enter Lammas Park, that slight stomach churn and the nervous palpitations.

This year, for the first time though, I could relax; there was to be no running for me, I was volunteering instead.

I have to admit that when I saw that wonderous FINISH line in all its glory, I felt a slight pang of... what?..not regret surely?

Maybe it was just nostalgia because that line has been my absolute favourite part of the race each year since it began.

As you may have gathered I am no runner. But, (reluctantly) I have been known to run (a bit).

I got involved in the first Ealing Half Marathon in 2012 on the back of all the Olympic excitement, and, well, let's just say I got round the course.. somehow.

In 2013 I fared slightly better, and last year, despite it being too hot and feeling sick with toothache I managed to improve my time just a tiny bit more.

This year, due to injuries and insufficient training, I decided it wouldn't be a good idea to attempt to run again so I volunteered, and I'm so glad I did, what a great experience!

The minute you put that official yellow jacket on, the questions come ten to the dozen: ' 'Where's the start line/toilets/baggage tent? What time will it finish? Where's the nearest cashpoint?'

Fortunately they were all straightforward and I reckon I must have helped at least 15 people even before I got into my marshalling position, close to Lammas - at mile 12.

Once in situ began the many, many questions about the road closure: ' How long will this road be closed for?' Can I just drive through the runners quick when there's a bit of a gap?... (er sorry,no chance mate) How am I supposed to get to my friend's house? (shows map with alternate route).

Suffice to say most people were actually fine and although a tadge inconvenienced, understood and reacted largely with grace. There are always a few though aren't there? The ones who think traffic signs don't actually apply to them!

Well, with my luminous jacket declaring 'Marshal', I felt brave enough to give that worldwide officially recognised hand sign (no, not one of the rude ones) but STOP! I then proceeded to point to the big piece of metal reading 'ROAD CLOSED' in the middle of the said road.

I only had one troublesome incident when I had to ring the transport line for a bit of back-up, and fortunately it was sorted fairly quickly. Sadly, the keffufle meant I missed cheering on some of my friends who made mile 12 in superquick times.

No matter, I had such a great time supporting everyone else; the hundreds of running club members, the fabulous Rhino, the Smurf, the tutu clad man and so many others who got round, still smiling.

It was very moving to witness this amazing feat of endurance and an absolute privilege to be involved in. Huge congratulations to all involved in this wonderful day, it obviously takes a lot of time, effort and organisation, but it's so worth it. The EHM and the team behind it rightly deserve every award going.

If you too are a reluctant runner but still want to enjoy this fantastic community day do consider volunteering next year - Ealing needs you!

Now, along with the lovely t-shirt, medal and commemorative EHM illustration, I think there was  some mention of us getting a free running place for 2016..... er...well.

Should the Reluctant Runner return in 2016 - this time with trainers on? Yes/No/Maybe?

Hmm...Watch this space!

Annemarie Flanagan

30th September 2015