runningman pavey

extreme runner and novelist

Running Man Pavey Unplugged

This week started with a bang, attending the Twilight Running Festival for 2012. I literally couldn’t stay away. I had to be there.

For the past two years, the Twilight Half Marathon had served as my first race of the year. A favourite event because of its unique starting time late in the afternoon, and the location at Queensland University. It’s a beautiful spot, and a wonderful family atmosphere.

A lot can happen in 12 months though. This time last year, it was all about me getting some races under my belt following my Achilles injury in preparation for Mt Fuji. I raced the 21.1 kilometres injured, but ran a fantastic time, enjoying the event all the more for my family involvement. Julia raced the 10 kilometre, my sister, Andrea, also ran the 10 kilometre, and my brother-in-law, Eamonn ran the 1km dash with my little nephew, Bailey. It was a fantastic night, and by being there this year, it brought back some fond memories.

But no, I didn’t go just to stalk the runners and hang out in a corner feeling sorry for myself. I decided to volunteer. I figured what better way to stay involved, get to experience the race once more, and give back to others for all of the enjoyment I’d received from the previous two events.

Arriving early, I searched out my contact for the race, who I never found, and ended up at the registration tent. I was promptly welcomed, and advised that all volunteers had actually showed, which was unheard of, meaning there were too many volunteers! I thought, “Great, here I am trying to do a good thing, and all I’m going to end up doing is stand around looking stupid, wasting away 6 hours of my life!”

Thankfully, it didn’t turn out to be the case. With some quick reshuffling, I found myself on desk duty, greeting nervous excited racers, and handing over to them their race kits. We were in the 10 kilometre section, which was about to get mighty busy!

I kind of found my rhythm, finding the person’s name, then their race bib and timing chip, then their race shirt, and finally their show bag containing a couple of magazines and sponsor goodies. This all worked well while there wasn’t much of a line, each of us serving a person at a time and doing our own thing. Everyone was kind of working it out as we went. But as the lines got bigger, a new strategy was needed. We had to get these people their race kits prior to the race start! It was make or break. Time was against us.

I found that having no real leader meant there was a bit of dis-organisation. We were all kind of forced to work things out ourselves. Which, thankfully, we eventually did. Soon I was on race bib duty permanently, people yelling out numbers, me grabbing the number from the box and handing it out. In the meantime someone had got the ‘greeter’ the runner’s t-shirt and show bag, and we were done. Everyone kind of found their station and went with it.

I had enjoyed the meet and greet aspect. I got to wish people luck, chat a little, live vicariously through their experiences. But as things got busier, there was no time for that. It was just get their details, get their stuff and get them moving. As a result, I was more comfortable doing the sorting of the race bibs. I found I was fast and good at this, and the girls at the front seemed happy with this arrangement.

2 hours later we were done. I couldn’t believe 2 hours had gone by so quickly. It was a rush! We’d made it just in time too. But there was no time to rest. Now it was on to help with the Half Marathon section. This wasn’t quite so frantic, but still, the hours ticked by rapidly. Before I knew it, it was 6:15pm, and 4 odd hours had ticked by. And just as suddenly as we’d started we were all done. Everyone kind of just wandered off. I hung around, helped clean up a bit, looked for other things I could do to help. I’d committed to being there until 8pm. But there was little to do, so eventually, just before 6:30 I wandered off too. I never found the person I was meant to report to, never found anyone official to sign off with. I just kind of went, like everyone else, as though we’d never even been there.

I’d hoped that I might make some contacts, see if I could uncover some future opportunities to be involved in Intraining (the running company that runs the event), or just make some running friends, but none of this eventuated. I guess I’m just not friendly or good at muscling my way into things. I chatted a bit with some of the girls who I worked with at the kit collection, but it was all superficial kind of stuff. Everyone was there for their own reasons, most because they knew someone racing, or were part of the Intraining running club. If you’re not part of a running club, they can be a bit non-inclusive. Not intentionally I think, but it just kind of works out that way. I skulked off, feeling good for having worked pretty darn hard, but a little empty at the end. It was really a thankless job, but in that I took away quite a bit of enjoyment, knowing I’d gone and put myself out, made my life a little more difficult, missed an entire precious Sunday afternoon, and done it for nothing, not even a thankyou.

It was great to have had insight into the other side of these events and the people who make them work. Unkown soldiers really, working their buts off, to help the race work, with just the knowledge that without them the event would not have succeeded. It was great to see how patient and polite the runners were too. It was nice to have my belief that runners truly make good people upheld. There was such a positive atmosphere to this event.

The foot felt good all day despite being on it all afternoon, so I was even happier. I was also pleasantly surprised that I’d finished just in time to go and watch the finishers come in for the Half Marathon.

I loved watching the first few guys run in. I’d actually feared that by being at the race it might make me more down about my injury than I already was. But being there cheering in the winners actually made me more positive, more determined. It was especially great to see an older lady come in, Leeanne Shultz, at age 51, and win the women’s. Now that gave me heart! Perhaps, just perhaps, there might be hope for me if I could just kick this injury.

So, come Monday, I was out in my Vibrams, walking my block once more. I was determined to give it a shot, especially before the doctor’s appointment this Thursday. I wanted to really test the ankle, and see if the cortisone had worked. The good news is, I thoroughly enjoyed the walk and it felt so great to be in the Vibrams. The bad news is, the ankle pulled up pretty sore later on in the day. What does this mean? It probably means surgery. But all will be revealed come Thursday when I have a chat with the specialist.

Stay tuned!

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