By Kylie Paul – a VWS Marshall’s perspective
Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the day had finally come. And what a day it was! Driving to base for the 5am shift I could just sense that this event was going to be a success on every level. I knew this with great certainty because my VWS family takes our events to heart and with pride. The work behind the scenes up and until this point is immense and no one pulls off team work quite like us. It is also of course a day that we get to personally thank the public for their generous and continued support!
After arriving at base and saying hi to the familiar but sleepy faces, my crew leader Kelvin Irvine and I headed off to Deer Park for the briefing by one of our biggest assets, Peter Wynne. At the briefing we were assigned our radios, lunch packs and assignments for the day. I was to be marshal #7 and my job was to reward the 10km runners with some encouragement and a lovely tar road after their final ferocious downhill amble. I was delighted to see who my other crew members were and had every faith that we would handle our section of the race with ease.
Kelvin briefed us and were dropped off at our respective spots. Team member and close friend, Robin Moonieya and I were positioned approximately 300m apart. My assignment was to guide the runners down the Platteklip stairs to Tafelberg Road and off to Robin who was positioned at the main Platteklip route entrance. I was positioned on a blind corner so I knew there would be a fair amount of traffic control involved as well.
We were positioned and ready, but knew we would only see our first runner in about an hour or so. Robin and I enjoyed a jaw-dropping sunrise over our beautiful city. The sun’s warm rays creeping over the horizon were glorious and it was great to be able to catch up with a friend. I thought to myself, despite the early Sunday morning start, the perks of being a part of this awesome family make it all worthwhile. Together, we watched the front runners of 20km powering along the mountain above us along one of the single tracks. As a former runner, and one recovering from various injuries, I was in awe of the pace they were moving at. This race is a tough one but these guys were making it look easy!
Robin and I split up and went to our posts to await the 10km runners. The first runner came down and passed me in the blink of an eye. Then the second, third and fourth came past at an equally strong pace. Steadily as time went a stream of runners began to form. The energy was great and it was awesome to see how hard some of the runners were pushing themselves. The greatest part of the day started unfolding at this point in the race, the camaraderie between the runners. Some legs were tired although smiles were forced through the pain, let’s face it, downhill hurts most of us. I heard the most amazing words of encouragement amongst the runners, as they soldiered on to conquering the mountain. The vibe was incredible. There was a cyclist eagerly awaiting to see his girlfriend come through my section and while he waited, camera ready, he helped me slow down and alert the cars coming around the corner. Whoever you are, thank you sir! She came down looking strong and he cycled with her to the end.
Another highlight on the day was seeing my fellow yellows showing that they are ready for the fast approaching training season. Some stopped to say hi and check in on how it was going, others gave high fives, some fist pumps. I was particularly proud of one member who has been quietly training very hard in order to get onto the fire line next season.
I previously stated I used to participate in races as a runner and have an idea of marshal etiquette. While some struggle to talk while they run, I always make a point of thanking the marshal. Now finding myself in the shoes of a marshal I experienced something quite different to the normal, “Thank you marshal!” Almost every single runner took the time to thank me not as a marshal, but as a VWS fire fighter. This made my heart swell and eyes tear up a little. While I was trying my best to encourage these runners they were trying their best to show their support for us. What a magical thing that was.
Once all the 10km runners had come through my crew moved off to the last water point on the 20km route to cheer home the brave souls who were approaching the end of their race. Again, big smiles and great vibes. After the last runner of the 20km passed through we packed up the water point, ate the rest of the jelly sweets and headed back to Deer Park and then base.
Well done to all the members involved in making this event another great success. Thank you to our community and those that came from far to support us once again. I look forward to participating as a runner in the 20km race next year and have set this as my goal after being truly humbled by the participants of the VWS TC 2018.