Six o’clock Sunday morning and the rain’s hitting the conservatory roof so hard it sounds like frying bacon. Sadly there was just porridge on the breakfast menu as we fuelled up ready for the big race.
For a change we weren’t running, we’d volunteered to marshal at the Jane Tomlinson 10k Run for All in Leeds and that meant an outrageously early start. Both Metcheck and the BBC weather reports were in the black books, the rain wasn’t forecast this early and my plans to catch a few rays as I stood in my tee-shirt, shorts flip-flops while sporting the rather fetching flourescent marshall’s jacket had to be shelved and Gore-tex waterproofs dug out from the back of the cupboard, it turned out to be a smart move.
As we took our places on Vicar Lane, one of the city’s main bus routes, Chief Marshall Stuart warned us that some drivers would assume the road closures didn’t apply to them. It was like a scene from On the Beach as the city centre stood silent, then Mrs This-Doesn’t-Apply-to-Me appeared in her whacking great 4×4 which she presumably needs to navigate the potholed roads of Yorkshire.
Noel stepped out to speak to her, she wasn’t amused, she had an important trip to make to the shops and had to cross the closed road. But it’s closed, Noel told her. But I have to get to the shops, she said, loudly. But it’s closed, Noel told her. I want someone’s name, she said. Why, he asked, don’t you like your own? She disappeared down a side street, using her 4×4 to mount a couple of pavements and go two-wheels Dukes-of-Hazzard style down the narrow ginnels to get to the shops.
The coach driver was more polite, he needed to pick up 50 Japanese tourists who were stranded at the Park Plaza. Pragmatism prevailed, the coach was abandoned and the tourists made their way across the city with their luggage, dodging the runners as they went, we threw up our hands in despair, such is the lot of race marshalls!
The rain stopped and the runners ran, all 9,000 of them, including Elvis, Scooby Do, Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble, two Roman centurions, Batman, Robin, a Clanger and a pair of pandas. We cheered, encouraged and clapped until our hands were sore, it was a wonderful moving sight. As we walked up to the finish line, our duties done, we were passed by many of those we’d cheered on, clutching their goodies bags, flushed with pride, thrilled. That was us last year. That will be us next year.