The view from the other side

I’ve lost count of how many races I’ve done over the years, I rock up, register, rack my bike and race. Whilst all the time taking it for granted that everything will be just fine. My safety and enjoyment is being looked after by the race organisation and the marshals, and I do the rest. I guess most of us think that? But now I’ve seen it from an organisers point of view I have so much more respect for all of these events and the people behind them. 

This past weekend saw the first holding of the Lancaster University Triathlon. A sprint race put together in memory of Andy Bailey a much loved and respected Management School lecturer who died suddenly in 2015. He was only 49 years of age. The race itself was a sprint – 400m swim, 20km bike and 5.3km run.

I was part of the organising committee led by Maggie Wild, another triathlete who spent almost a year sleeping and breathing this event. She left no stone unturned and cared deeply about the smallest details. I played a small part by designing the run course and making suggestions at meetings. It was time consuming – especially doing the risk assessments and envisaging every possible problem that might come up and then informing British Triathlon. Not to mention meetings with University officials as they were generously closing the roads for the race. All of that seemed easy as the race drew closer and the stress levels started to rise.

We were responsible for the safety of 216 participants (a great number for an event that hadn’t really been advertised externally). We had deliberately set out to make it a relaxed affair and fun to encourage new people into the sport. We did it as 70% of competitors had never taken part in a triathlon before. How cool is that.

I was on site at 5:45 am, the race started at 10am. I finished setting up and marking out the run course with 10 mins to spare. I got home at 4pm having cleared it away. In the meantime I spent the day marshalling. I don’t mind admitting I was knackered and in bed that night at 7pm.

The team of marshals were brilliant, all the competitors were smiling  and having fun, the weather played ball and campus was filled with hundreds of spectators all cheering on their friends and loved ones. All of the stressing and months of planning was worth it for the four hours of so of racing . People proudly wearing their medals thanked me and said they’d be back next year – there is no greater endorsement than a repeat customer.

Happy Marshalls and Smiling athletes make for a great event.

(Thanks Charlie Satterly – Sprint Finish Photography) for the fantastic photos.

I just hope we get permission to do it all again next year – a year wiser, with tweaks to be made this could become a fantastic annual event in the triathlon calendar.

I can’t wait to put on my high viz vest again and brandish a walkie-talkie with intent.

I just shows how good organisers are when we take races for granted, we are used to things being smooth and our races going without incident. Keep that in mind next time you race and don’t forget to thank the marshals, trust me it makes us smile just as much as when you get your medal.

Oh and we raised over £10 thousand for the local hospice.

Happy Days🙂