When that first phone call came in 1981 asking for help with a Fun Run from
Newcastle to South Shields we had no idea how much would be involved. At that
stage we were asked to man Drink Station 4, but as the event has grown and
additional stations added we now man Stations 5 and 6, with more than 100 Scouts
and Leaders being involved from South Tyneside.
On the day of the event it is an 8 a.m. start to unload 50,000 bottles of water from the
delivery truck, set up tables, load the tables with bottles of water, all with the tops
taken off. Over the years the way we have given out water has changed from paper
cups filled from big black bins, which some of the runners insisted on putting their
feet in to cool off. The organiser then thought adding orange cordial would be a good
idea, resulting in Scouts going home with orange hands and arms and runners with
sticky heads after pouring it over their heads to cool off. We were then given bottles
with screw tops which had to be removed resulting in blistered hands. More recently
Lucozade and Powerade have been introduced as well as bottled water.
The start of the race is heralded by the arrival of a Police car with Course Director,
Max Colby, doing his final course check. Next we see the helicopter in the distance
and as this grows nearer we know that the lead runners are near.
We get a great view of the lead runners and are able to cheer them on, but then
looking down the road see a great wave of runners advancing towards us. For the
next hour or so things are very busy, giving out water to the runners and the
deafening sound of bottles being crushed underfoot and the runners calling for more
bottles. The Scouts love giving out the water and start off counting how many bottles
they have given out and boasting to their friends about this, but soon loose count
when it gets too busy. Friends ask which personalities we have seen, but after the
lead runners go through we are too busy to see anyone.
As things quieten down we get the opportunity to look around and see some of the
great fancy dress costumes, some of which have provided the most humorous
moments of the day. Like the fabulous giraffe who tried to get into a Portaloo, well
his body got in but his head had to stick out of the door, or the chap with the plastic
crocodile on his back, he had to prop this up outside to be able to use the facilities.
As the race draws to an end the last few runners wander up the middle of an empty
road hoping there is still some water left.
At the end of a very busy and enjoyable day we tidy up and go home with the sound
of many ‘thank you’s’ ringing in our ears, after running all that distance it is great so
many runners still have some breath left.