With the Southern Cross Country Championships event taking place over at Stanmer Park, it was inevitable that there would be a substantial Arena presence both on and off the trails. Conditions on the course deteriorated as each event went on, in such a way that only January can offer, so huge credit goes to all our runners who got out there and donned the Arena vest with pride…and no doubt a lot of mud too!
For some of us the adventure started at noon. Lucy Anderson was already out in the field, hi-viz adorned, Caroline and Mark on duty as well as Bob Page overseeing all before him, and countless others too as some of us arrived and were briefed about our duties – some of us got a radio too!
Out on the course, it was soon apparent that conditions would be challenging (though a few of the passing runners had their own choice words for it all). The first races for us were the U20, then U17 women. As marshals, Holly, Georgia, Ang and I were at different parts of the course and I was lucky enough to be located at position C which was where the filter between the next lap or head to the finish line was located and involved yours truly being in middle of the course directing the way. From first hand experience, and seeing the effort and grit of these runners, if anyone ever tells you that you “run like a girl” – take the compliment! These girls left everything out there and all have a great future. It was obvious how much the event meant to them as Tara Shanahan’s first role on arrival was to comfort a distressed runner, for whom, sadly the day was not her’s.
2.05pm saw the 8,000 metres Senior Women’s race and the opportunity to shout for some Arena runners. As you will have seen no doubt from the results page, Caroline Hoyte had an excellent result coming home in 32:53 in a very busy and speedy field!
Casting a eye down to the start line from our position, it was obvious the last race would keep us busy. As the final ladies made their way home, several hundred men appeared on the scene meaning directing was challenging to say the least! For the first lap, I was reduced to shouts of “Let’s go Arenas” as the masses descended and my colour-blind eyes struggled to distinguish the Arena colours! (Plus there was the small matter of not getting flattened!) By the second lap, the field had spread out so there was the chance to give shouts to Alex, Michael, Dixie, Del & Teo on the next lap, all of whom were running strongly in what by now, had become a quagmire.
As the rain now fell, adding to the challenging conditions, if Jim, David, Tris or Dave heard a big mouthy shout, then yes it was me! (Apologies to Kevin following closely behind as I nearly missed him!) As you can imagine from the photo above, Gareth, Paul and Dorian were “treated” to some very slippy conditions as they completed the Arena presence.
It’s great credit to all of our runners who put in such strong performances on a difficult afternoon, regardless of time or position. Many athletes didn’t make it to the finish line and there were some particularly nasty falls out there (though thankfully, it seems, no serious injuries). At the end of the final lap, I was feeling popular, though that may have had something to do with the fact I was directing runners to the finish line!
Without a doubt, every Arena finisher charged past me on that final stretch keeping it going right until the very end! We are a richly diverse club of all abilities and speeds, but we’re a proud one too. The thanks from our runners afterwards was humbling, matched only by the pride I’m sure all of us helping out, had in seeing you guys out there!
Apologies to anyone I’ve missed out of the above, runner and volunteer alike! Wherever you were on Saturday afternoon, just know this! Your club did good in the mud!