Yesterday I did my first stint of volunteering. and I really enjoyed it. I took on the 3am to 11am slot at Pangbourne for the Centurion Running AUTUMN 100. This was the aid station between Goring and Reading so, was the final station before the finish line.
I was a little concerned that the graveyard shift would be tough. I knew I wasn’t going to get any sleep (or nothing worthwhile) before heading out. I also wondered if we would get the real walking wounded, dead on their feet runners that really needed massive help.
I have to admit that whilst I have always been grateful to volunteers and the work they do, until now I have never truly appreciated what effort it takes to cover all the support a race like this needs. The long hours, lack of sleep, countless cups of tea and marmite sandwiches – and that’s just the volunteers themselves 😂
But what I saw in my 8 hours were the most inspiring support from a bunch of near strangers I can describe since I started running just for people to go out on a run and take part in a race.
Runners of all shapes and sizes, of all ages and races all with one thing in mind – getting their 100 miler buckle. So many felt beaten and broken, so many questioned they could continue. But for every one that felt down there were a dozen that (even after 95 miles) came into the station with a jolly Sunday morning skip. They weren’t going to let anything get in the way, they had this. A quick refuel, some shouts of encouragement followed by pointing them in the right direction and they were off.
At times there were tears, snoozes, sickness – we had most things – but what we did was make sure nobody gave up just because their head was telling them too.
We made tea, more tea, soup. Gave people a few minutes to compose themselves and then they were out. Sometimes with a bit of leverage from us to avoid them staying too long and regretting it. We counted them all in and we counted them all back out again.
We had no retirements. We sadly had one time out at 95 miles. But he was the perfect example of what running a first 100 means to people. So pleased to have made it to 95. Disappointed, but now so much more prepared for the next crack at doing a 100 miler. Well done 👍
And that’s not where things ended. We had the pack down, cleaning, van loading all to do.
The team at Pangbourne were great. The runners inspiring and the experience humbling.
I always appreciated volunteers. I am always grateful for their help, encouragement and endless positivity. Now, I have a deeper and far greater appreciation for the efforts taken to help us somewhat madcap runners achieve the targets we set ourselves.
To all the volunteers out there …
Thank you !