It’s been a while since I’ve done some race photography and it’s my first time doing one for the trails. Since I was injured and lacked a lot of training, I officially became a race marshal/photographer in this year’s edition of the CM50.
We were assigned at the first Aid Station, near Puning Hot Springs. It was the first and the last aid station to be passed by the runners. We had a lot of time to kill since the busiest time would be at the start and near the end of the race. I was with Cheri and Jeric, fellow runners, and Sir Brian and Doc Cecil who acted as medics. Ours was a critical point as runners would decide to continue on or be ferried off to Clark Parade Grounds if they choose to declare a DNF (Did Not Finish).
As we had arrived a few hours before the gunstart, we estimated a few hours of rest. It was cold but bearable. Then as our estimated time arrived, we fixed up the aid station. We prepped the food and water along with the fruits and sandwiches. Then, we waited.
The runners started trickling toward our station and soon we were swarmed by sweaty people. Most of the runners just refilled and went off, but some stayed behind to get some nutella sandwiches and bananas. It was fun to see things from a marshal’s perspective. Of course, I took some photos of my friends.
As the last few runners set off, we started to pack the food and go back to sleep as it would be a while before the runners return. Morning came and we prepped the food once more. I had fun making nutella sandwiches while Cheri and Jeric made Yang Chow rice. The lead pack of the 60km arrived and one by one, they refueled for the last 10 kilometers. The 50 mile (80km) runners eventually made their way to our AS and I took some pictures of them as well.
We waited throughout the day for the runners. Familiar faces and new ones made an appearance and I did my best to capture them at their most raw and vulnerable state. It was inspiring to see the relief on their faces once they see the AS. I never really thought about it from another perspective, but I guess this must be what I look like when I run too (only more haggard). It was an eye-opening experience for me.
It started to get dark and we finished assisting the last runners. Some of them were already very tired and wanted to quit, but we urged them to go on. Fortunately, they listened to us and continued to the finish. We didn’t want anyone to DNF in our station and no one did. This was also the time I realized how important the marshals at the aid stations were. Aside from assisting the runners with their gear and fuel, they also provided that small push that tired runners need in order to finish. And sometimes, that small push can make a big difference.
Once all runners were accounted for, Atty. Jonnifer, the Race Director, told us that we could go back to the race venue already. We got on Doc Cecil’s truck and headed back to the Clark Parade Grounds. As we got off, we could still see some runners gunning for the finish. Since Khat still wasn’t there, I decided to backtrack the route until I saw her. We ran together in the last few meters until she crossed the finish. What an amazing feeling to see people crossing the line!
Then, we counted down the last few seconds until the cutoff time and as the clock struck 7:00pm, 18 hours after the gunstart, my race marshal duties were over. I congratulated everyone in the race area and thanked Atty. Jon for the opportunity. He gave me a very nice Marshal shirt for my efforts, but that was already a bonus. Hearing the runners say thanks to me and the other marshals for the assistance was a wonderful feeling. It was as if I finished the race right beside them too! Hahahaha!
It felt amazing to be able to give back some time and effort to the trailrunning community. It’s always been ups and downs in the last couple of years since I started running the trails, but this is definitely one of the highlights. I can’t wait to be a marshal again! No need for training. Is this goodbye trailrunning and hello trailmarshaling? Hmmm.
You can view the photos of the CM50 2017 by clicking on the following links:
You can view the race results of the CM50 2017 here.
Congratulations to all my friends who ran this year’s edition of CM50, especially to #mytrailLove Khat! You are officially a badass and I’m so proud of you. See you all next year (as a runner or as a marshal? we’ll never know for now).
Run good but marshal better.