April 12, 2013
I’ve been meaning to write this race report for a while, so long in fact that some of the detail is a bit sketchy in my mind. But I’ll give it a shot!!
It was a few years back, maybe like 2007 or so I think I’d done 2-3 races at this distance so I was quite confident in getting a good time, and was quite keen to get out of London for a race. So I signed up for the Leeds Castle race for life run…only problem being that between booking my place and the weekend of the run my car was stolen, so I had to beg my sister to drive me the 50 or so miles to Kent from London (at silly o’clock)
It was a wet and miserable morning when she pulled up with her two kids in tow. I promised that the weather would improve and that by midday we could relax and explore Leeds Castle a bit and grab some lunch somewhere nice, I think it went something like “don’t worry sis, give me an hour or so and then we’ll make a day of it”
About 30 minutes into the journey we started to spot people in their cars in the flowing traffic wearing the light blue race t-shirt, but then when we approached the turn off we hit some serious traffic. The race was due to start at 9am, we’d left at 7am so should have had plenty of time, but there had been an accident the night before and a local road was closed. So that’s where we sat, crawling along at a snails pace. Someone had phoned the organisers to find out what was going on, and the word spread from car to car letting us know that the race start would be delayed until 10am. Well at 9.45 and only a few miles from the venue people started decanting from their vehicles and walking or running to the start line, well sod that. It was still raining for a start.
We pulled into the car park at about 10.15 and I reluctantly removed some layers and made my way to the start where dribs and drabs of runners were just starting unsure of whether that was ok or not. So already I’ve got the hump, I had no crowd to hide behind and the first kilometre was on grass (wet grass). Anyway, after 15 minutes or so I forgot all the stress of the last 2 hours and decided just to concentrate on enjoying the race.
It was quite a nice route actually, some of it on the paths around the castle, some through the woods and a bit across fields. I knew I wasn’t running a PB time but I did think I could still finish in maybe an hour and twenty!
The field was completely spread out so it felt like being out on a training run, apart from the cheery but damp marshals, who must have been twice as annoyed as me, but there was one lady about 200 meters or so in front of me, so I just kept her in my sights and used her as a guide of where to head next.
So we were running along what felt like a country lane, with a tall hedge to one side and farm buildings to the other and I was in a world of my own listening to something cheesy on my iPod (spice girls or sugar babes or something) when I noticed the lady in front of me look round over her shoulder. The first time she did it I smiled back at her, the second time I realised she was looking back for a reason, so I too looked back…just in time too as I saw an ambulance hurtling towards me. I didn’t have time to stop but I did edge closer to the hedge trusting that the ambulance driver had seen us, and that’s when I felt it hit me, knocking me into the hedgerow.
As you can imagine I was a bit shell shocked and as I caught my breath, checked that nothing was broken I looked up to see the ambulance come to a halt, obviously to see if I was ok…but no as I approached the vehicle I saw a paramedic in the passenger side lean out of the window and reposition the wing mirror before driving off into the distance.
Stunned. Gobsmaked. Pissed Off – that was only the half of it.
A runner behind me asked if I was ok, and I was physically I think, but emotionally I was a wreck. I was about 5k in, too far to turn back but still with forty minutes of running ahead of me. That’s when I realised the rain had stopped and it was tears rolling down my cheeks.
I walked for a bit trying to make sense of what had just happened, and then I did a bit of stop start running, just trying to get to the end of the race. But it was torture, I was cold, upset and exhausted and just wanted to give up and go home but at about 7k I saw a crowd of people surrounding someone on the floor including two people in green uniforms, the guy on the floor with an oxygen mask didn’t look in good shape. At the next water station I asked someone with a radio what had happened, a sprained ankle and an asthma attack apparently.
I finished the race in 1 hour 45 minutes, the longest it’s ever taken to run 10k, my sister and two nephews were not amused. I crossed the line, got my medal and a drink and then proceeded to tell my sister what had happened. Despite a little bit of a sniffer, she suggested that I at least reported the incident. She was right as i had a weird pain down my right hand side by now, so we made our way over to the first aid tent where i explained the whole story. There were two crews on site for the race, from a voluntary first aid organisation i.e not the NHS or St Johns, the second crew had taken the patient I saw earlier to the hospital, but as luck would have it they arrived back on site just as i was signing my incident form.
As the two guys made there way toward us I recognised them as the ones from the ambulance that struck me, one was a chubby spectacle wearing guy in his late 40s, the other one was…now wait for it a cross dressing male of about 45 with a blonde wig, inch of foundation, fuchsia pink lipstick and matching false nails. Believe you me she was a lot more palatable at 100 yards, but it was the blonde hair that I remembered seeing lean out of the vehicle, I had no idea at that point that she was actually a he.
“Is that them?” asked the guy with the clipboard “yes” I replied with a solemn face, but blushing slightly.
We didn’t hang around too long after that, I was desperate for the loo, and the looks that I was getting from my sister and my 10 year old nephew made me doubt that I would make it on time, how we kept a straight face I don’t know!!!
So there you have it, the time I got knocked over by an ambulance whilst running a 10k race.
Please tell me this crap happens to other runners out there!!