Marshals make the difference.

Just read my January copy of Runners World.  The letters page has a letter on good and bad race marshals and it says visit runnersworld.co.uk/marshals to add your comments.  The link took me nowhere so thought would mention on here how fantastic the marshals were at Milton Keynes Marathon 2012.  The weather was torrential, various parts of the course were flooded as was the MK Dons Stadium, causing havoc and a route detour after the race had started.  Despite it all those marshals were nothing short of brilliant!  Wherever I popped up (I was spectating watching my wife run) there were encouraging shouts and cheers throughout the day.  Those folks deserved medals too.

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Comments

  • The marshals at the Mk half in march last year were also fantastic despite the freezing cold tempretures and rain/snow.

  • when the weather is bad and its wet and windy.....narshalling must be the worst job ever..much harder than running the race.......

    sometimes in races you can tell when the marshalls have been hired and are getting paid as they just don't seem to care.....but this is just a minority and thankfully rare nowadays

     that you to evryone who marshalled in 2012.

  • seren nos wrote (see)

    when the weather is bad and its wet and windy.....narshalling must be the worst job ever..much harder than running the race.......

    sometimes in races you can tell when the marshalls have been hired and are getting paid as they just don't seem to care.....but this is just a minority and thankfully rare nowadays  that you to evryone who marshalled in 2012.

    What do you mean by "don't seem to care"?

    A marshal's job is to ensure that runners go the right way, don't get knocked down by cars, etc.

    As long as they are doing that, that's all I need from a marshal.

     

  • wilkie..........a did a marathon a couple of years ago and a few of the marshalls were just sitting on the floor playing with their phones.............no interest in the race........no telling you which way to go.if you shouted and asked then they just looked at you dumbly............it was an easish route but their lask of interest made me think they might as well not be there...................to be fair it was only a few of them not the majority

  • In that case, I'd agree with you!  And I'd have complained to the organisers, too.

     

  • I nearly cried with with emotion when a Marshall at ??lan Valley 10 shouted and clapped as I ran towards her and sent me on knowing the exact distance to the finish. Thanks to all the marshals (esp Jen) who stand still so I can run!
  • seren nos wrote (see)

    wilkie..........a did a marathon a couple of years ago and a few of the marshalls were just sitting on the floor playing with their phones.............no interest in the race........no telling you which way to go.if you shouted and asked then they just looked at you dumbly............it was an easish route but their lask of interest made me think they might as well not be there...................to be fair it was only a few of them not the majority

    Yup, I've experienced this quite a few times. I have to say though it's always been in bigger events where they have road closures, police presence and hired marshals from a big security firm. Never in the smaller runs staffed by volunteers.

    My favourite event this year on the marshaling front was the first ever Highland Perthshire marathon in Aberfeldy. It was put on by the Rotary Club and the marshals were lovely ladies in their 60s and 70s who seemed mostly in awe of anyone who would attempt to run 26 miles. They were shouting out encouragement to everyone, as well as warnings about tight bends in the road and slippy leaves on the tarmac. Total stars, the lot of them.

  • I was almost put off racing again after my first 10k. I was slow (82 mins), but the race was marketed as one you could 'walk, jog or run' so I was suprised to be running on my own at the back. This wasn't the best experience, but I was mostly bothered by the attitude of the marshalls and organisers. Several times I had to shout to them and ask the way, as it wasn't clear and they were too busy chatting/on phones to pay attention to me approaching. A number of marshalls asked me if I was the last and could they leave now etc, making me feel like I was holding them up. I got lost twice because some had left their posts before I arrived. I overheard the organiser saying 'if she's not the last I'm going anyway' as I crossed the finish line.

    Fortunately I gave it another go, partly due to encouragement on this site. And I'm glad I did. I've run two great races since, with good marshalls and organisation, and it's made such a difference.

    I'd expect a marshall to stay until the last person or time limit, pay attention to runners during that time, and make sure runners are safe and go the right way. Many of them do more then this, encouraging people to keep running, verbally supporting them over tricky bits etc, and that's a bonus.

  • Marshals at Bradford City run 10k made a difference today.... approximately 1.5k of "difference" image

  • i did this years Milton Keynes half marathon. it was 1 degree and felt like -8 with the wind chill. The Marshalls were brilliant and made the event a success. we mustn't forget those individuals handing out the water, cleaning up the half empty bottles as well as those providing medical support and the local community cheering us on. thanks to each and every one of them. Jog on!
  • Jane, it's bad practice for marshalls to behave that way.

    I marshalled a half marathon last year, and was quite cheesed to hear a St John's Ambulance oaf stationed next to us loudly proclaim "Yeah there's just STRAGGLERS out there now", right in earshot of a chap coming past.

    It's a very hard half marathon, so we get people taking 3hours and more. But for such a slothful oaf of a bloke to put down guys taking on a hard course was out of order, and I gave the guy a bit of a grilling.

    Maybe a little harsh as he was a volunteer doing good work himself.

    But still. image

  • Thanks for posting that, Brian - I'm doing MK this year as my first marathon and beginning to get nervous about it!!  I've done a few parkruns before and the enthusiasm of the marshalls has always been really encouraging.

  • SG - Oh, I do hope you called him a slothful oath!  (If you could get the words out; it's a tricky one!)

    I don't particularly need an all-cheering support group of marshals as I'm going round (although it is nice!) but I think as a minimum you want them to appear attentive and on-the-ball.  If it's a cold and wet day, you might be out on the course marshaling and secretly wishing it was over sooner rather than later, but it's pretty easy to remind yourself that for every race you've volunteered for, you've also raced many many more.

  • Good point there PhilPub.

    In fact, I'm injured and likely to be out for many months, so maybe I should volunteer to marshal something to still feel connected. Once I'm off the crutches. It might be a bit frustrating, but the comments above show it is worth doing well.

    How do races recruit the marshals they need?

     

  • jane davies 17 wrote (see)

    I was almost put off racing again after my first 10k. I was slow (82 mins), but the race was marketed as one you could 'walk, jog or run' so I was suprised to be running on my own at the back. This wasn't the best experience, but I was mostly bothered by the attitude of the marshalls and organisers. Several times I had to shout to them and ask the way, as it wasn't clear and they were too busy chatting/on phones to pay attention to me approaching. A number of marshalls asked me if I was the last and could they leave now etc, making me feel like I was holding them up. I got lost twice because some had left their posts before I arrived. I overheard the organiser saying 'if she's not the last I'm going anyway' as I crossed the finish line.

    Fortunately I gave it another go, partly due to encouragement on this site. And I'm glad I did. I've run two great races since, with good marshalls and organisation, and it's made such a difference. I'd expect a marshall to stay until the last person or time limit, pay attention to runners during that time, and make sure runners are safe and go the right way. Many of them do more then this, encouraging people to keep running, verbally supporting them over tricky bits etc, and that's a bonus.

    That's a bad story, Jane. I've been on both sides of the fence - as a runner who appreciates the good marshals, whether they simply point you the right way or take it further by giving encouragement, whenever I've marshalled I've tried to be helpful and smiley, encouraging people if they seem to need it, but always paying attention. I think that last thing is the least one can do. In my experience, most marshals are pretty good, though, so I'm glad you carried on with your running.

  • I've been injured, so marshaled for the first time earlier this year. I enjoyed it. It was great to see the faces of people that I normally only see the back of and I felt like I was 'giving back'. There were a number of runners that made a point of thanking me too - that made my day!
  • jane davies 17 wrote (see)

     

    How do races recruit the marshals they need?  

    Well if it's a club-run event it would probably just be a call out to all club members to pitch in, but if someone got in touch to volunteer I'm sure the race organisers would be delighted. You'll often get little gestures like free tea and cakes, or free entry to next year's race once you're back on your feet.

  • PhilPub wrote (see)

    SG - Oh, I do hope you called him a slothful oath!  (If you could get the words out; it's a tricky one!)

    I don't particularly need an all-cheering support group of marshals as I'm going round (although it is nice!) but I think as a minimum you want them to appear attentive and on-the-ball.  If it's a cold and wet day, you might be out on the course marshaling and secretly wishing it was over sooner rather than later, but it's pretty easy to remind yourself that for every race you've volunteered for, you've also raced many many more.

     

    He got the message, and won't do it again I'm sure image

    I actually love marshalling our half, from the carpark bit, to the 3+ hours standing around. Even though it's Mid nov, I think it's a mixture of being bloody glad I'm not racing such a horrible course, and giving people a cheer on that makes it for me.

    The front runners don't need or generally acknowledge any cheers or support, but when you get into mid pack you get a lot of thanks, smiles and it's quite a nice feeling.

    Makes you think, as I'd never think (or be able to speak) to thank a marshall mid race, but clearly no marshall = no race.

  • If I've paid ??50 to enter a big city marathon I'm always polite and thankful to the marshals but I know if they're G4S etc staff that they're being paid to do a job.



    If I'm doing a small marathon, ultra or club race I can just about guarantee everyone helping out is a volunteer and I'll usually take along some sort of snacks for them, to say thanks. At ultras I always stick a note of thanks on my drop bags and a box of nibbles for checkpoint volunteers.



    I've ended up marshaling at quite a few ultras just by emailing the organisers and asking if they'd like any help. Usually extra bodies are always welcome...
  • Those winners who jog back along the course and get in the way of rest of us need reporting too, but I suppose that's another story.

  • cowgirl668 wrote (see)
     
     
    I was told by the ladies "you are so late there is nothing left. Where have you been" my face said it all & she rummage around for water & a banana. The few people behind me just crawled away

     

     

    Someone said where have you been!? How blimming rude. For most races with 2,000 or so runners, you'd see runners up to 3hours and a bit beyond, so 2.29 isn't ridiculously late.

    When I marshall and see the real backmarkers coming past, I don't think "blimey they're slow", it's more, wow, the strength to put yourself through it!

  • At one race I was in, one of our elderly lady members was somewhat perturbed to discover the finish area had been dismantled before she had finished.

    When she complained about it, the marshall wasn't a diplomatic success when he suggested she was so slow it didn't matter.

    With no more ado, she walked over to her car  (Nissan 280Z I think) climbed in, switched on the engine and in a blazing fury, lay a couple of strips of rubber down on the way out of the car park.

    Not happy.

  • image You wouldn't be happy would you.

    Struggle through a race, with just that thought of going over the finishing line to keep you going.

    Then you get there and it's been dismantled image

  • you wouldn't get that at the bigger races.

    Even the one I marshall has about 1,000 runners and has people over 3hours.

    Although that is a pretty damm hard course in fairness.

  • Just Marshaled at the Fleet Half today and took an unbelievable amount of abuse from the general public that were unable to exit a car park at my marshal point due to the road being closed in both directions. Apparently they all lived "just down there" I got so fed up that I asked them why they had parked in a pay and display if they all lived 'just down there'. Even got grief off a priest !! In contrast though, when the runners, who accounted for the majority of those parked in there, left, I was repeatedly thanked despite the fact that I was only allowing them to turn left due to the finishers using the opposite side of the road. It's a shame that marshals/volunteers get that level of abuse but thankfully none of it came from those taking part.
  • Cowgirl668, what a horrible experience. At 2:29 you would have been at least 15 mins faster than me too.

    I asked the question about marshalling. I'm in Manchester, so the two races you suggested are a bit far, but I'll check out the sportmaker site.Thanks.

    A quick mention for the excellent and friendly marshalls at the Stockport 10 last year. I was last for a significant part of the race, but never felt rushed by the sweepers behind me.

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