The phrase is “up and at ’em” or more accurately “up and at them” and comes from the military with the full command being “Up, Guards, and at ’em!”. This is exactly what applied to Carl at 04h00 on Sunday morning as his task was to put the km markers in Duynefontein and surrounds. Even at this incredibly early hour, Carl came across Heidi who was already at her marshal post!
I left the house at 06h30 and was really grateful that I did so. The roads were closed from the Table Bay Mall and traffic was turned around to take the longer route down to the beachfront. I parked at Big Bay, near the finish line, ready tobegin my duty.
Our Blouberg Marathon Race Director, Monique, allocated Selvashani and I to look after the WPA staff, the Mobii timing team and DJ Dean – about 20 people in total. Selvashani said to call her Sel, which to be honest made my life a whole lot easier, and from that moment on we clicked. Just like a bic pen. Just like that. Sel had brought along two trays of assorted sandwiches, yoghurts, water, oranges, apples and chocolate bars. We decided that the best place for the WPA supplies would be under our club gazebo, next to DJ Dean. Sadly, in the process of erecting the big gazebo, we came across a broken support bracket which threw our good idea out of the window.
Between the two of us, we maneuvered a folding table to under some shady trees, directly behind the WPA table. This turned out to be a win-win decision. Unfortunately, the coffee shops hadn’t opened for business yet, so we kept the WPA staff entertained until we could offer them a hot drink. The wind was keen and I was eternally grateful for dressing in layers. I must add though, that the layers stayed put until I got home! Unless one was running, it just never warmed up enough to remove my jacket.
Eventually the coffee shops opened, after what seemed like an eternity, and off we went with the list of orders – cappuccinos, hot chocolate, tea with milk, tea without milk, Americanos, and lattes. Fortunately, we had written down the orders and stood in the queue – which was out of the door – waiting to place our order. The poor folk behind us were muttering and rolling their eyes as they knew this was going to take a while. With the drinks balanced we headed off back down the stairs to the WPA staff who were so grateful to see us return.
In a nutshell, our day was spent offering platters, collecting litter, running off to collect yet more – and more – orders of hot beverages. Personally, I found the WPA staff to be an amiable pleasant bunch who seemed happy enough with what had been delivered to them.
Standing at the finish line gave us an opportunity to not only to see the first person to cross the timing mat, but the last person too. Hats off to both of them! Hats off to all of them! We bore witness to two runners tripping over their own feet and unceremoniously face plant in front of everyone! A couple of runners crossed the line and literally just stood there. Perhaps mummified at the very thought of what they had just completed, leg cramps and all.
There was a youngster by the name of Jayden, who was a spectator with his Ouma. This little guy must have been 10 or 11? Once he saw the finishers coming in, he took it upon himself to run with them to the finish line, with his hand on their back offering words of encouragement. Such a little sweetheart. He was wearing a medal which I’m quite sure someone had been kind enough to give him. I gave him a couple of donuts and his only request was for a drink. He said all this running had made his thirsty. So the coke table came in very handy indeed. I’m sure we’ll see him next year.
Towards cut off time, the platters now empty, the oranges eaten, the apples gone, the chocolate bars consumed, it was time to wrap things up. Lots of hugs from the WPA staff and hey presto, another Blouberg Marathon behind us.
It seemed terribly unfortunate that the City Council requested a split for the 21km runners. This really caused disharmony. I know this because we were at the WPA staff table. There was one runner in particular that was most disgruntled because somehow he got into group 2 but was faster than someone in group 1 – who had won some prize money and taken his title. It took a lot to calm this him down and he was adamant that he should have come in the first 3. Everything was sorted out in the end.
We had a super day. The runners had a super day. There was so much planning that went into this epic race and it proved to be a huge success! The real champs are the ones that didn’t run at all. The very people that spent hours, weeks and months sorting this marathon out. So Race Director, Monique and everyone that contributed – what a team – what a club – now that’s being a West Coaster!!