18 September 2016
Now all the RR10’s are done and dusted but this doesn’t mean the end of the cross country races. Hot on their heels are the CC6’s, a series of monthly Sunday morning off road runs in a very similar format to the RR10’s with some familiar venues. Today was the first event so it was another early start even though Commando and the other Spitfires wouldn’t actually be running this race.
Just like the RR10’s every running club has to drop out of one race and take a turn to marshal it. Today was the Spitfire’s marshalling day and anyone who didn’t marshal wouldn’t be eligable to run any of the other races. Luckily we didn’t have too far to travel as the race was being held at Fleming Park in Eastleigh. As usual we arrived early and, somehow, I found myself in possession of a lovely high vis jacket and a marshalling spot.
The park, a tiny oasis of greenery in the centre of the little railway town, is a place I’ve been meaning to explore for a while. Monks Brook meanders through, dividing the open fields and leisure centre, opened in 1975, from the small woodland area. As we had a little while before the race was due to begin I went for a little wander.
Folowing the path down the hill from our marshalling spot I discovered a bridge under the motorway. It may have led me somewhere interesting but there was no time to check it out. Instead I followed the race route for a little way. It looked like a great place to go walking on another day when hundreds of runners wouldn’t be charging through at any moment.
Around the corner I bumped into two more marshals, Sam and Rob. They appeared to be our nearest marshalling neighbours because, at the top of a fairly steep hill, I was back with Commando where I started. Luckily for the runners they would be running down the hill rather than climbing up it as I’d had to.
On the other side of the main path our other marshalling neighbours, Gerry and Teresa, were waving to us. We still had a while before the race was due to start so we both went over for a little visit.
In fact every corner seemed to be filled with Spitfires in high vis jackets. We didn’t have time for any more visiting though because the race was about to start and we needed to be back on our own corner ready to direct the runners and cheer them on.
It wasn’t long before the first of the runners appeared. He made short work of jumping over a fallen tree on the course but I wasn’t sure everyone would get across quite as easily. As it happened I needn’t have worried. No one tripped over the tree or slipped on the muddy ground. Fellow blogger Tamsyn, who is just weeks away from giving birth, coped with it admirably, although most women would be putting their feet up at this stage. The indomitable Annie also made it across, even though she was being lapped by the front runners at the time.
The second lap was much the same as the first except our hands were getting a little sore from all the clapping and our voices a little hoarser. In fact it all seemed to go surprisingly fast and, in no time at all, Annie was coming round for the second time and my first job as marshal for anything other than a parkrun was over. All that was left to do was walk the last part of the course gathering up Spitfire marshals as we went and hand back the lovely high vis jackets.
It did seem a little odd to be at a race with all the Spitfires present but none of them running but normal service will be resumed next month at Whiteley. Today’s visit to Fleming Park may have been short and sweet but it has moved up my list of places to go for a walk considerably now I’ve seen all those woodland trails.
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