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Running Tips: Race marshalls are the unsung heroes who keep runners safe

PUBLISHED: 09:01 18 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:01 18 May 2018

Steph Callen, from Diss and District Athletics Club. Picture: STEPH CALLEN

Steph Callen, from Diss and District Athletics Club. Picture: STEPH CALLEN

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I’ve been a little AWOL from the road recently due to a bad and lingering sinus infection, the type that makes you think it would be kinder if your head just fell off your shoulders. Anyway, it caused me to take a break from running for a couple of weeks.

Race marshalls at a Norwich showground Race For Life event.
Photographer: Graham Corney © EDP pics 2004Race marshalls at a Norwich showground Race For Life event. Photographer: Graham Corney © EDP pics 2004

While a hearty jog is very unlikely to cause the occasional sniffle to escalate into full-blown flu, it’s usually best to err on the side of caution if you’re feeling especially ill.

This last month of sitting at home, feeling sorry for myself, reminded me of a race I took part in when things didn’t quite go my way. While I felt fine on the starting line, I began to suffer with severe stomach pain about a couple of miles into the course. Perhaps I had pushed myself too early or was not hydrated enough? Whatever it was, it was starting to make me feel faint so I decided it was best I slow down to a walk.

Not feeling much better, I stumbled along until I came to the next marshall on the route. They saw me struggling and offered to walk slowly with me back to the start line. Sitting on the grass with a snack and some water, I gradually began to feel better but I couldn’t have been more grateful for the kind actions of the marshall who made sure I was safe when I wasn’t 100pc sure I could make the stroll back myself.

This is just one example of how race marshalls, who are almost always volunteers, are such a valuable and crucial part of any running event.

From providing calm and caring assistance to those who are injured or unwell, to handing out water, offering a cheer and an encouraging “keep going!”, to simply pointing us in the right direction. These unsung heroes are there - in all weathers - helping us stay safe and have fun. So next time you’re about to run past a race marshall, make sure to give them a big thank you!

Steph Callen is a member of Diss and District Athletics Club

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