September 24, 2010
This was no ordinary Sunday visit to South Shields for twenty of Birtley’s members. For the last 15 or so years Birtley Athletics Club have been invited to help officiate on the primary finish at the end of the Great North Run. A mixture of young and older members of the club arrived before 8.00am in eager anticipation of what was to follow. Welcoming cups of hot tea and coffee were provided in the officials tent and were much appreciated on a rather cool damp morning. 24 hours earlier most of us had been swathed in warm sunshine on the quay side in Newcastle watching the Junior North runs and the street athletics. As the atmosphere built around the finish area with the mass media,spectatators, announcers and the “big screen” keeping us informed of what was happening on the start line in Newcastle, we were given our instructions for the day. The main objective of working on the funnels is to make sure that the runners keep moving once past the line and also collect the all important microchips so that their times can be recorded. This is much easier than it used to be when we had to tear off bar codes from numbers and stack them on pegs (in the right order). The other important task was to spot any runner who needed medical attention and get the medics there quickly. Once the duties had been allocated we had “free” time to stand at the head of the funnels and cheer on the first 2oo finishing athletes on the road before the masses were routed onto the grass and into the funnels. Soon after the funnels were opened streams of athletes started to run into the funnels. This is an amazing experience and gives a unique insight as to the organisation involved to get all the runners over the line safely and out through the system for their medals and trophies (all 38,000 of them). Athletes of all ages, shapes and sizes displaying a full range of emotions as they cross the line, sweaty ones who want to hug you, others who want to vomit over you, others who need you to keep them on their feet before they collapse with exhaustion or cramp. Fortunately this year beacause of the rain and cooler conditions most of the problems seemed to be athletes suffering from cramps. 5 hours later and most of the runners were through and the funnels were closed one by one. Another 2 hour wait on the Leas before we could get our cars out and head off home. Another excellent GNR weekend – roll on next year. A big thanks to all who volunteered to help from Birtley AC. Margaret Hopkinson, Steph Hopkinson, Susan Wilson. Katy Wilson, Jessica Wilson, Tommy Millmore, Vince Taylor, Janet Taylor, Sophie Taylor, Kieran Taylor, Natalie (our friend from Hamburg who is with us for a year), Lillyanna Turner, Lydia Turner, Grace Turner, Matthew Norton, Sean Ridley, Paige Gilhespy, Alex Flowers, Sarah Murray and yours truly Ed Lown.
Posted in events 7 years ago