on... Support

Sprint finish!I’m going to make a rather big statement here – runner’s partners and families must be about the most understanding people in existence.

They often come to support, cheering us on the hottest days, making sure that we’ve got our water and our sunscreen (btw when you’re on a run, coconut oil smells so much better than deo-BO don’t you think?), wait patiently and then hope to goodness that you’re going to be happy with your run – no injuries and performance-satisfied. They stand there in the pouring rain, shivering in anticipation of the ten seconds that they’ll see you running past. When you’re not running, they’re listening to endless discussions about what you’ve run, what you’re going to do. Discovering new items of clothing in the wash and going through the process of checking – running garment (check), gender (check), size (check) – new purchase then. They often handle precious equipment like running socks, carefully offering additional protection against the sock fairy, remembering the wrath of a previous complaint - “those socks cost me ... errr” – how much?

They understand when you resist that drink the night before, they respect the fact that you just need to sleep (well, the night before, anyway). They will watch through TV coverage of a race that you run in, eyes darting around desperately trying to get a glimpse of you on-screen, followed by an acceptance of finding anyone flying the maroon and white. They will take photos and videos of you running, allowing you some insight into how you actually run and look – including some corking race finishes (just thinking of the one with the “whippit” turning round to see Jamie doing a fly-past on the line!)

Sometimes, they bake cakes and bring them along for an after-race picnic. Maybe I dreamt the last bit, but it’s a nice thought anyway. Whenever possible, when running out-of-town on a weekend, we’ll stop for a meal (which I’m told is the highlight of the day). That is, of course, following a quick rub down with a set of wet-wipes, a European shower and a change of clothing. One of the few things that I appreciate from my brief dabble in surfing is the loss of any inhibitions about getting changed in public!

Now I am lucky to be blessed with a very understanding wife, and I asked for her opinions on whether I had missed anything. Apparently, it’s all about the listening – whether or not it’s interesting, important or not, it’s important to the runner. That makes it important to the harmony of the household. My wife’s visits to parkrun have been reduced significantly due to me providing a little girl (finally), and the dog’s arthritis (making her less likely to pace the hallway wanting to go out to “barkrun” every week). That said, the visit a few weeks ago was thoroughly enjoyed – the athletes were admired, squirrels were spotted and a pee on the grass was had to show support – Jayne and the baby enjoyed it too.

So this week, I want to raise a glass for all those in Runners backup teams everywhere. Maybe we should have an after-parkrun picnic in their honour sometime soon – like Fathers Day, but for Supporters instead... maybe even a Lliswerry Sports Day after parkrun one Saturday.

I’ll bake a cake.

Nigel.