The last twenty four hours have been a little bit of crazy!
I volunteered to marshal at a running event, entailing standing at a certain spot along the course and pointing the runners in the right direction. I knew a liberal sprinkling of encouraging comments would also help, and as I had been the recipient of the generous time given by volunteers time without number, I thought I would like to give a little back.
What could be difficult about that? The difficulty occurred because of the error of my inductive reasoning. Just because a marshal stood still pointing the way at that event, and that event, and that event, it does not follow that in very single event a marshal will stand still point the way. You can’t be certain about generalising from the particular. No you can’t, as I discovered!
I signed in at my allocated time of 8.00 pm Saturday evening to help at the half way point of a 100 km run, walk, jog challenge from London to Brighton (now that’s a lot of crazy!) I asked where on the course I would stand, and the chap gave me a map and said I would just have to wait for some competitors. I asked for a bit of clarification, and he informed me that I would be supporting a group comprising individuals who wanted some guidance through the night section. ‘So you mean I walk with them?’ ‘Sure thing – to the end’.
Oh my goodness! Now, I am very fit and active – I had run 11 miles earlier in the week on a training run. But 44km – about 27 miles – was a whole different ball game. Hey ho! I was here, the group was here. Off we go.
So from the edge of Crawley, through the woods and lanes of Sussex to Brighton, we set of at 8.30 pm, headlamps in place so that the ladies could complete their heroic journey. Low-hanging branches, stubbly tree roots and pitted fields couldn’t stop us. We slowed at times, and encouraged each other on, digging deep mentally and physically. C’est dur.
We were given companionship and laughter and a few tears. We were given the glorious, noisy, joyful dawn chorus. We were given the burning orange sunrise as we topped the South Downs. We were given – and gave – strengthening words and spurred each other on. We were given eleven hours and fifteen minutes together (although they had already had thirteen hours of walking prior to our grouping). Strangers, fellow-travellers, humans together in our own struggle and our own triumph. What a crazy, wonderful world.