Sunday, May 03, 2009

Sudbury Rocks Marathon

This isn't a travel post but the day was a little out of the ordinary so I figured I would record it for posterity.

The Sudbury Rocks Marathon is a large event by local standards. It involves a full marathon, a half marathon, a 10K and a 5K run as well as walkers. The full marathon is a qualifier for the Boston Marathon so some serious runners show up. The proceeds from the event go to the Canadian Diabetes Association.

A while back, the Greater Sudbury Police Service contacted Normie to see if, once again, the STOP Officers could assist with traffic control. Quite a few of us volunteered. The race was starting at 8:00 AM and our briefing time was at GSPS headquarters at 7:00.

It was a clear, crisp morning and I was early. I figured that, with HQ being close to the YMCA and the run starting at the Y, parking might be at a premium. I was wrong. Had the whole parking lot to myself as I ate my Tim Horton's breakfast sandwich and drank my black Timmy's coffee. Eventually, other STOP people showed up and we wandered across the street to get our directions.

The route ran from downtown around the northeast corner of the old city and back. One loop was the half while full marathoners would do the course twice. One traffic lane along the entire way was blocked with traffic cones. We found ourselves assigned to intersections along the earlier part of the route. Somehow, my name was left off the assignment list but there was one extra intersection at the corner of Madeleine and Lasalle that was unmanned so that's where I got sent.

Arriving at the intersection, I parked in a private lot belonging to a small accounting firm on the corner and took my place. Shortly thereafter, a yellow school bus stopped and let off a young lady. Caitlin was a high school student doing her community service requirement by volunteering for the Diabetes Association. She would assist with traffic. We introduced ourselves and then we waited.

At about 8:30, the first runners appeared coming our way. The ones leading were running along easily. Since we were past the turnaround points for the 5 and 10K runs, all we would see were the half and full marathon people. Over the next half hour, quite a few people came by as we stopped traffic on and off Madeleine which might have interfered with their passage. Some were running well and others were already feeling the pinch.

When it was obvious the people had all passed by for the first time, I realized we would have to wait quite a while before the full marathon crew came around the second time. Gary (Biker) lives nearby and would be heading out shortly for a Freedom Riders meeting, so I called and asked if I could borrow a couple of folding chairs. He dropped them off right away and Caitlin and I settled in to wait.

An hour or so later, the lead runner sprang into view running all alone. He passed us and didn't even look like he was breaking a sweat despite the fact that he was about 26 kms into the run. Before too long, a couple of more came running along. Then the rest slowly reached us, spread out much more than the first time. Vehicle traffic on Lasalle picked up too, so we actually had more to control. Finally, about 11:30, Constable Rick came by to tell us the last were gone.

The STOP crew had decided to go for lunch afterward at the Win Fortune Chinese buffet. Caitlin was going to have to wait for the yellow bus and then follow the whole route back to the Y, so I gave her a ride and dropped her in the south end on my way to lunch.

This was the first marathon I have worked. I was impressed by the leader and eventual winner's athletic ability. A friend tells me that last year he ran six full marathons in six consecutive weeks. Super human comes to mind. I was also impressed by the runners' courtesy. Many thanked us for working as they came by, some with breath they could little afford to spare. Lastly, to the lady who didn't look when pulling out onto Lasalle, thanks for not hitting that truck and causing me a lot of paperwork.

It was a good day for a good cause and I expect that, if we are asked again next year, I'll be there.

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