I arrived at the Meridian Leisure Centre in Peacehaven to marshal for the Mince Pie Ten Mile in heavy rain. I will regret my failure to find my waterproof over-trousers, I thought to myself.
But, by the time I had carried goodie bags, bananas and mince pies in, and attached a considerable number of notices to the walls, the rain had finished and blue sky was coming from the west.
This curious course combines glorious stretches on the downs with some tedious running around the ugly back streets of Peacehaven. I was allocated a spot at around the two mile point, where the runners emerge from Lower Hoddern Farm. My duties were to stop traffic as the runners crossed. The drivers of the cars and buses were tolerant, with one notable and unpleasant exception. The leading runner, Robbie James of Lewes AC, came through at a cracking pace. 'He'll never keep that up,' said a spectator, but he did and was going just as strongly when he passed me at my second marshalling point, at around nine miles, to win in 59:22. The course was muddy and waterlogged, as the bespattered running kit they wore as they passed me on the way back testified.
Marshalling is a fascinating opportunity to observe the wide variation in running styles. I wonder if it is possible to construct a taxonomy of these, based on the variables of arm movement, foot placements, head up or head down, and so on?
In the afternoon, though replete with a sailing club lunch, I felt I had to get out and emulate the Mince Pie runners. I went out on the Alfriston Road and over to Fiveways, then across to Bishopstone and back along the sea-front, nearly eight miles. The going was sometimes sticky, but by no means impossible.