Well that’s not a race instruction you get every day is it?
A colleague asked me on Thursday if we had anything nice planned for the Easter break. Just a 10 mile race on Good Friday, I responded, in our house that counts as a fun thing to do!
The race in question was the Maidenhead Easter 10, which a few Eagles had run before and fancied running again. Nice and flat, mostly on country paths, rumours of good cheer support; why the hell not?
There was a good bunch of us there. As it wasn’t a club championships race there was a mix of people running it to work on their 10 mile PB’s, people running it genuinely just for fun, and a few of us using it as our final double digit foray before the big day next weekend.
I was really impressed with the race. The start is in a business park, which meant plenty of parking and a good space for a decent little race village – tea, coffee, food, all the essentials – fast race number collection, well organised bag drop. And most importantly, the finest loo arrangements available to running man or woman! They had those portacabin type ones you get at posh outdoor weddings and fancy do’s, with real toilets, real sinks, actual soap and everything! The race prep here was pretty extra.
And that wasn’t all. As we were milling about in the loo queue we noticed one of the ladies in the line dressed like she was ready for a morning’s marshalling was familiar. Very familiar.
Yes, amazingly the lady I noticed peering into the loos to check which were free and who then squeezed past me at the sinks was the Prime Minister. It was actual Theresa May!
Apparently Maidenhead is her constituency and she’s helped out as a marshal here for years. There was a bit of anti-Brexit-laden muttering amongst the runners, but on the whole the impression most of us had was that she was trying really hard not to pull focus and was simply mucking in and showing an interest in her community. It was actually pretty cool.
And at least there was soap in the loos for her – she’s probably still trying to wash off that weird Trump hand holding moment. Ick.
The race itself did a couple of quick loops of the business park and then headed out into the pretty countryside of the local area. For early on a bank holiday in areas where you wouldn’t expect a lot of folks to be about it was really well supported almost the whole way around. Particular cheering highlights were the amazing Duracell bunny dancing cheering lady at the turn point in the business park (we couldn’t quite make out everything she was screaming at everyone, but it was definitely positive encouragement!), one especially thorough marshall who was clearly committed to saying well done to every single runner, a mum and kid with matching funny signs (‘I don’t know you but I know you’re awesome’ and ‘motivational running slogan’ – nice!) and the absolute best thing, several elderly residents from a local care home who were all sitting outside to cheer us on with a huge homemade banner. That was so lovely. I’m so glad that our little pace group wasn’t racing so we had the time and breath to thank them properly.
Mrs May had a roving marshal role it seems. She was pointing us around two left turns on our way out of and back into the business park. I’m sure there’s a searing political comment to be made here about a Tory Prime Minister pointing people towards the left for a change, but let’s not be churlish.
All in all I really enjoyed this race. Yes maybe it’s a little odd that this is my idea of a fun thing to do on a bank holiday, but I’m certainly not the only one. This was a little gem of an event, well organised and well supported, with a great medal and goody bag. Ideal final week race prep for the mammoth task ahead next week.