A Day In The Life Of A Race Organiser

Report on Wilmslow Half 2006 by Malcolm Fowler.

It’s 6.15am on the morning of the race. It’s getting light and I’ve just discovered my right wellington boot leaks!

The reason for all this was a few days ago there had been a tremendous downpour that had flooded part of the course. I had assumed that by Sunday the water would have drained away but there was still 8 inches of standing water across the whole carriageway under the railway bridge. Eventually I managed to unblock a grid and the water drained away so that I was the only one that ended up with a soggy foot that day!

I had already been around the course depositing ‘Road Closed’ signs at various locations ready for use later and ensuring that the mile markers were situated correctly.

A quick dash back to the Rugby Club for a bacon butty and to ensure that as much car parking as possible was available (we had lost much of our off road car parking due to the previous wet weather) before checking that the Enquiry Desk was ready to open at 8.30am.

A quick briefing with the Police to finalise arrangements and it was then time to fix the race clock to the lead car and ensure it was in position for the start of the race. It’s always a relief when the race finally gets underway on time and everything has gone to plan.

Sitting in the passenger seat in the lead car should be a time to relax, but with a police radio, a race radio and a mobile phone to answer you are kept busy. Police and Marshals need constant updates as to your position to enable road closures to be implemented when required and the race commentator wants updates on the leading runners so that he can relay the information to spectators at the finish.

As for the race itself, initially there was a group of about eight runners, but before the first mile this group had fragmented and after 2 miles Andy Norman had a 100 metre lead. Running at a pace that hardly varied from 5 minute miling for the whole race he gradually pulled away from the rest of the field finally winning by over a minute from 2nd placed Tipton Harrier, Phil Hinch. With Andy’s brother David finishing 4th and their father Jeff Norman winning the Over 60’s category it was a very successful day for ‘The Normans’ .

Meanwhile in the Ladies race Pauline Powell from Blackburn Harriers had a similar lead over 2nd placed Gill Laithwaite from St Helens finishing in 1:16:15 and 1:17:26 respectively

A special mention must go to James Shaw who suffers from learning difficulties and who set a ‘World Best’ for runners with his disability finishing 33rd in 1:17:08 and who will now secure funding and represent Great Britain as a disabled athlete.

Our regular blind runner James Hughes and his ever present guide John Courtney once again completed the race recording the very respectable time of 2:08:00.

Amir Khan, the boxer, knocked several minutes off last years time finishing in 1:26:53 and if he keeps improving at that rate he will be up with the leaders in a couple of years.

Once the lead car had finished it’s job it was then a case of ensuring the finish was functioning correctly before running back to the Rugby Club with the first set of results in time to work out the prize winners for the presentation.

After grabbing some food and drink, all that remained to be done was helping collect the equipment from around the course and removing any rubbish before finally going home about 6pm. After phoning the race results through to the press and logging on to read some of your email comments and check that the results were online I could finally relax safe in the knowledge that the race was over for another year.

I’m sure it was never this exhausting when I used to just ‘run in the race!’