THE JOY OF BEING SUPPORT CREW: BLUEBELL TRAIL 10 MILE 1ST MAY 2016
I thought it would bother me, supporting in a race today – the Bluebell Trail ten mile to be precise – instead of taking part in it myself.
Instead, it reminded me of all the reasons why I love to run, and all the amazing people, their smiles, and their stories.
It was a well thought-out plan. I would run to the start of the race, to ‘test my leg’ which has been playing delinquent for the past couple of weeks. I kept to my tempo pace, worked hard – leg felt tight but OK. 7 miles ticked off – job done.
On route, I heard a familiar voice holler from across the road. An emphatic “HELLO GORGEOUS!” combined with a double-handed, overhead wave greeted me around mile 5. Canal Man (aka a man who lives by the canal) used to whoop at me when I frequently trotted past his waterside residence whilst living at that end of town. He’s not seen me for a while. He seemed genuinely pleased to see that I was still alive, still pounding out the miles. I miss his waves and his generous – if slightly sexist – cheerful banter. I smiled and hollered back, together with a double-handed, overhead wave. I had a little chuckle to myself, and I ran on.
From watching the runners set off, I headed straight off in my car to the very top of the climb they’d face around 4 miles in. It’s a tough one. I’ve done it myself before a few times: I didn’t envy them today.
I managed to find a place to stand at possibly the most exposed, freezing cold point on the entire route, overlooking the majesty of Halifax town centre (it looks better than it sounds) right on top of Beacon Hill. My handclaps were muffled in my double-layered glove/mittens, but I tried to clap even harder to compensate.
A plethora of legs, a myriad of vests, and a conveyor belt of smiles ran past me. Every single one was amazing in their own right.
“Wow!! Look at the view!” a guy pulled over to take a snapshot of a moment in time.
“Ha ha soak it in! Enjoy! – You’ve earned it.” I laughed.
The fact that he’d stopped –during a race – to take in that moment, to absorb it and marvel at it, made me smile. That was more important to him than knocking a few seconds off his PB.
“Would you mind taking a photo of us, please?” A group of three ladies wanted evidence of their hard-earned ascent, having conquered the nemesis of Trooper Lane.
“Sure! No problem. On three… SMILE!!!” my fingers felt more like frozen Birds Eye fish fingers as I clumsily took hold of their Iphone, and fumbled around for the button.
As they ran off giddy with their high-altitude team shot, one of them turned back to me and yelled proudly, pointing to her friends “These two ran London (marathon) the other week, and that one Manchester, too!”
“Ahh that’s great! Good for you!” I retorted, with a double thumbs-up. More than anything, I was impressed by the fact they were still smiling.
As my hands got colder and more fish finger like, I clapped harder. The vests kept coming, and the leggings kept running. I wondered what their stories were. Where had they come from? Why had they found running?
Had it saved them, too?
Once I’d cheered the last runner past, I headed back to my car and inhaled a cheese sandwich, whilst the heating did its best to thaw out my fish fingers.
It feels like I haven’t even run today. Instead, I saw the vests, the leggings, the buffs and the smiles.
I’ve been reminded of what really matters, and why any of us even bother. For those who did great times and got PBs today: massive congratulations. For those who smiled, took selfies, marvelled at the view, and even managed a ‘cheers love!’ in response to my muffled handclaps and hearty hollers, a huge WELL DONE to you too: You’re all heroes.