An ordinary woman's fascination with an extraordinary sport ... and the extraordinary people who take part

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Tick, Tock, ...

We're in the final countdown.  Eight days to go....

The runners are tapering, making final support plans, grizzling and grumbling, checking and re-checking food and kit, fretting over every last niggle - not an injury!  not this close!, thinking about weather - is good weather bad or vice versa? is there such a thing as bad weather, only unprepared runners?, getting the last of their support team details into the organisers, debating the finer points of the route and if the fallen trees in the forest will be cleared before race day, thinking about the race, not thinking about the race....

Support teams are getting ready for a weekend of pandering to friends and family who insist on doing this strange activity, of going over finely tuned (and laminated!) plans that will be quite probably be thrown out of the window within hours as timings change and favoured foods become repulsive, and listening to the above on repeat....

No doubt also hoping that the latter part of this paragraph in the Support Team Brief is accurate:
What is the role of the support team? To be completely subservient to runners’ every whim for as long as it takes them to complete the route and for them to be forever ever grateful, buy you a load of beer, several dinners and whatever else they can extract; one supporter got a new Mini One. 
And also getting prepared for this:
A good crew will anticipate the change of mind that runners have at every checkpoint. They will have the agreed food/drink ready but know that you will want something else. They will forgive the temper tantrums, occasional bad language and unreasonable demands (an ice cream at 1am in Kinlochleven, for ****s sake!). They will be cheerful and encouraging whatever that means for you. For some that could mean an appropriate kick up the backside – "you wanted to do this" or sing songs etc
Ice cream???

The organising committee are no doubt managing all the last minute preparations behind the scenes.  Logistics, people, race day kit, entry lists, support partners, mountain rescue teams, medical support, support crew details, testing communications for giving live updates on race day, facilities, locations, merchandise, goody bags, goblets....  And all of it pretty invisible to the 170 runners who just want to turn up and run....

And the marshals, well we have our sets of instructions as well.  Who's where and when, contact numbers for Race Control, safety officer and race doctor, names of sweepers, what we're supposed to do, what we're not supposed to do, how best to help in an emergency, weighing instructions, and most importantly "Don't forget to enjoy yourselves..."

I have my midgie net, spray and long sleeved clothing (if there's a biting insect within ten miles, it will find me ... and then invite every member of its extended family round for supper), a good idea of where I'm going and a hotel booked in Fort Bill (not that I'll be seeing much of it due to the hours that Kinlochleven is open).  There is coffee, red bull and pro plus to be stocked up on - and probably lots of chocolate, strawberries and fruit to keep me happy.  Not planning on having ice cream so please don't ask!

My fellow marshall - Lesley - at KLL is also new to doing this officially, having previously been the Race Director's "chauffeur" and occasional relief marshall.  But we both volunteered for this and we're both looking forward to doing it.  Rather than us both doing the full fifteen hours, we're doing overlapping shifts so, if you or your runner is extra speedy you'll only meet Lesley, and if you're coming through in the early hours of Sunday you'll probably only meet me.

I don't know about the rest of you but I'm getting stupidly excited!

See you in Kinlochleven....?


  1. Just discovered your blog and read all the back numbers. Brilliant, really hope you keep it going.

  2. I hope you're 'on duty' when I go through Kinlochleven!

  3. See you in KLL, I promise not to swear... well not at you anyway ;-)
    Fiona x

  4. Good on you Julie :) I love your blog and since I may not remember to say it by the time I get to KLL, thank you so much. I can't wait to hear your stories after the race.

  5. Julie, great blog, it's brilliant to read about ultra running from a slightly different perspective. Thanks so much for helping out with the WHW race - I'm sure you'll find it a great (although tiring) experience. I won't be able to see you at KLL as I'm heading up to FW for the first finishers, but hopefully we'll get a chance to say hello at the prizegiving on Sunday. All the best, Ian

  6. finally getting chance to comment after reading back a bit, hope i get to say hello, if i'm doolalley by then just slap me and introduce yourself :)