So, the obligatory start-line selfies have been taken, you’ve had 23 visits to the portaloo and the gun has gone off. Here's the final instalment of our Preparing for Events series written by one of our fabulous Run Group Leaders, Deborah Ashley with all you need to know about safely getting to the finish line, and what to do once you’re there!
1. Stay alert at all times, you may not be on a familiar path or road. Keep watch for drain covers,manhole covers, potholes, curbs and street signs.
I once saw a runner take himself out of the race within 100 meters of the start, he was fiddling with his watch and ran smack into a road sign knocking
2. Can I get lost? Unlikely! There are marshals all around the course. They will keep you right, and just
follow everyone else, you probably are not going to be right at the front blazing the trail!
3. Can I walk if I need to? Of course you can, you’ll see many runners walking at times. If the path is very busy, try to move over to the left hand side to allow people to overtake you safely. If you can get onto the pavement, walk there, leaving the road for runners.
4. Is there a cut off time? Yes there will be, they can’t keep the roads closed indefinitely. You’ll be told
the cut off when you enter the race, and it will be stated in your race pack. If you are at the back
you’ll see the sweepers – the road sweepers cleaning the roads and pavements ready for road re-
opening. There will be at least one marshal at the back, and they will advise what to do if you are
slower than the sweepers. Sometimes you’ll be taken out of the race, sometimes they will let you
walk on the pavement.
5. What about water? Most races of 10km and above will have regularly spaced water stations along the
route. You may get a bottle, cup or squidgy pouch of water. Be careful around the water stations, the
ground will be saturated by spillage. For at least 1km after a water station the path will be littered
with discarded containers. Take great care not to trip or slip on these. If you are going to throw away
a container, try to throw it to the side of the road, not drop it right in the path of other runners.
6. Some runs that take place in hot weather will provide cooling shower sprays. This might be a tunnel
of fine mist to run through, or it might be a fireman with a hose! If it is very hot take advantage of
these but be careful as it may be slippy. Make sure your phone is protected against the water.
7. What if I get an injury or feel unwell? All events have marshals who can help you with first aid or can
summon a paramedic for you. If you are in trouble, find the nearest one, or ask a runner to find one
for you. The runners who’ll be alongside will help you I promise. Please be aware that roads have
been closed, or you may be on part of the route that is off road, so it can take time for a vehicle to
reach you. The officials will prioritise life threatening cases for ambulances or air ambulance so be
patient. They will do everything they can to make you comfortable and help you to contact anyone
who is waiting for you. Large events have first aid tents along the way, or mobile medics on bikes who
can help you with bandages for cuts, grazes or blisters. I’ve even seen them painting people with
camomile lotion for bad sunburn!
8. At the finish, well done, you’ve done it! Keep walking, you’ll be funnelled to the area to collect your
medal and goody bag. Please make sure you collect the shirt in the size you ordered. Don’t take a
different size. There is nothing worse for a slower finisher to find that only XS or XXL shirts are left
when they ordered a Medium.
9. Find your supporters or go and find the baggage buses. They can be a bit of a walk, but that’s good, it’s cooling your tired muscles down. Large events have a runner village, with food outlets, sometimes a beer tent, and other concession stands, take a bit of time to explore.
10. As I’ve already said it can take time to get home. Public transport will be busy, you’ll have to queue.
Roads will be busy with everyone leaving car parks at the same time. If you can find somewhere to go
for a couple of hours until the rush dies down that’s a good option, but bear in mind everyone else
had the same idea! Put your warm top on and raid your goody bag for snacks and drinks!
We hope this has been a useful insight into a typical race day. The main thing is to enjoy it! I promise you will be buzzing for days after a race and there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll be signing up for another!