By David Hart.
Ann, who won’t mind me describing her as elderly, laden down with overflowing collection
bucket as she crossed the finish line at the Great South Run last month, was a
moment for reflection and emotion, as she became the last finisher in our 2014
Great Run series.
of our Great events are a sea of elation, sweat and tears and as an organiser I
have had the privilege of welcoming a significant number of our 220,000
participants this year home.
very fastest in the world to some of the slowest, the gnarled club runners to
the fresh-faced first-timers, and the Scooby Doo’s to those who prefer to carry
white goods on their back, there is never a dull moment.
unsurprisingly, are the elites, who hastily have to be arranged into a one,
two, three picture for the cameras. Sounds a glamorous part of the job? You try
getting three exhausted athletes, two of whom are disappointed, into order 15
seconds after running a half marathon in front of the nation’s cameras!
there are the fast paced runners, straining every sinew to record a personal
best time, eyeballs out…no pain no gain. The sanctuary of the finish line often
becomes an attractive place to lie down. Trip hazard.
the joggers, with the odd celebrity face thrown in; some odder than others. Tired but happy, they’re the people who look
up expecting to recognise me when I shout “Well done Kevin” and “Great effort
Elizabeth”…clearly having forgotten that their name is emblazoned on their run
turning tide, the joggers (do NOT call them fun runners) become slower and are
increasingly infiltrated by the fancy dress participants. I can confirm that
Superman is not super-human and bear outfits look unbearably hot to run in.
We love the
stragglers. Groups of people, usually women, hand in hand, cross the line
before almost invariably hugging. The
sense of achievement palpable and it often takes just a quick glance at their
tee shirts to know that the tears that follow are in memory of a loved one.
At the back
of the stragglers are the most humbling moments of all. Brave people, helped
out of their wheelchairs to defiantly take the last few steps themselves. A slap in the face for the condition that has
forced them into their predicament.
special place, a Great Run finishing line.