Volunteering as a Muddy Marshal: What it’s like to volunteer at an obstacle course race…
This week Dirty Dozen Races caught up with one of our past volunteers (or Muddy Marshals, as we call them), Lee Marshall.
Being a Muddy Marshal with Dirty Dozen Races is not only great fun, but you’ll also be able to race for free (no charges at all!) at a future race of your choice. As if that wasn’t good enough, Muddy Marshals also get to enjoy a hot drink (before the race), a cold beer, and a hot meal (after the race). Volunteering for a Dirty Dozen Race simply involves encouraging runners and watching out for those that are injured or flagging. Our race control team and paramedics will deal with incidents, but Muddy Marshalls are there to keep them informed of any incidents.
However, as Lee discovered, you will need a sense of humour as you’re going to be outside all day watching people pit themselves against our obstacles…
“I didn’t know what to expect” – probably the first thought when contemplating volunteering for a Dirty Dozen Race, and that was certainly the case for me. I had seen the event advertised, making me wonder what it was all about and whether it was the sort of thing I would like to do, and volunteering as a Muddy Marshal seemed like a perfect way to find out – with the added bonus of a free race once the volunteering was done!
From the moment I signed up there was plenty of communication from Dirty Dozen Races; e-mails telling me where to be, when to be there and what I would likely be doing when I got there. Come race day we were all taken to a marquee (out of the rain, hurray!) and given an extensive briefing on the course, the radios and how the day would run. We even got to meet ‘The Beard’ himself, who seemed remarkably calm considering this was the inaugural event, and it was his name on the package. Maybe that is just the sort of person you need to run such a mad event…
Divided into pairs, we were allocated our obstacles. Being clever, I volunteered my friend and me for one of the first obstacles, the theory being that once the last competitors had gone through we would have a chance to look around some of the latter part of the course. Oh yes, I’m not just a pretty face!
The first runners came through at a cracking pace and all we were required to do was get out of their way. Where we became useful was for the bulk of the competitors – those who were not looking for a fast time but just to complete the course. Most of these were in teams, and it was great to watch them encourage each other over what was, for some, the biggest thing that had ever climbed (so far, bigger things were yet to come!). Apart from shouting encouragement, there were a couple of people who got caught up in the net and needed a hand, but everyone managed to get over.
One person stands out for me particularly though; she was terrified of heights and was struggling just to get to the top. Her teammates all rallied around her, climbing up with her and helping her one step at a time. Despite repeating over and over that she couldn’t do it, she took one more step, then another, and another. With constant encouragement she slowly managed to get one leg over the top and, after a pause and a few more protests, the other. Climbing down was a lot easier than the ascent and, once down, the pride and relief could be seen shining from her smile. It was everything that the Dirty Dozen Race was about – overcoming adversity and fears by using grit and, above all else, teamwork.
Once the last people had gone through, we went to have a look at the other obstacles and realised how lucky we had been. There were some very Muddy Marshals out there, and all seemed happy with what they were doing. Everyone had great tales of people getting over, through or under their obstacles.
Then it was back to the finish for a pint and to listen to the stories of the muddy finishers. You can’t help be jealous of them for taking part when you have only witnessed it – it’s probably the same for every sporting event, but it did cement the desire to take part in one myself.
So next time it will be someone encouraging me over the tall obstacles, as I’m not too good with heights myself! Bring. It. On!
To become a Muddy Marshall please sign up via our Volunteers Page.
- Words by Cerian Jenkins and Lee Marshall