The triathlon training blog of Phil Barnes

Cornwall Run to endMS Marathon - Race Coordinator Report

"Be the change you wish to see." Maybe it was a Facebook post superimposed on a photo of Ghandi, or maybe it was a bumper sticker on a Prius - but somehow that quote resonates with me.

Two years ago, at the awards ceremony of the Run to endMS, it was mentioned that they were considering putting on a full marathon to celebrate 15 years of the event. "That would be awesome" was the collective thought amongst me, my wife and a collection of Cornwall multisporters. "They should do this... they should do that..." we had no shortage of suggestions on how and what "they" should do when "they" put on the marathon.

Fast forward 18 months: still no official word on the Cornwall marathon. My wife and I are planning our 2016 multisport season, and looking to squeeze in a Boston Qualifying attempt.  I called up Pat Clarke, the long-time race director for the MS run. "Pat, are you putting on the marathon this year - can I help?" And with that innocent offer, a Pandora’s Box of event coordinating madness was opened.

I’ll spare you the minutia; suffice to say, there is a lot that goes into putting on a modern-era event, burdened with all the entitlements we as runners have come expect. There’s a phrase long time race directors tell newbies - "You don’t know what you don’t know."

Fast forward to race day, 6:40 AM, the buses roll into Crysler Park and Marina. I’ve already breathed several sighs of relief by now (I’ve synched the starter's watch with Sportstats, the buses (finally) arrived to pick us up, most of the runners have been bibbed and chipped, we’ve left the college right on schedule, we’ve passed by Upper Canada Village and the first aid station crew is getting setup and ready to go). We’re on site with twenty minutes to go before start time: plenty of time.

It’s amazing how fast time can really fly. I’m passing out the last bunch of bibs and chips, signing the invoices for the buses, answering last minute questions. Concurrently realizing that I have to really "water the flowers", but more urgently.... poop - oh yes, forgot to mention I’m running the marathon too.

No time, "I’ll just sweat it out." Oh the humility.

8 minutes to go: Shoot, gotta get changed and ready to run. 4 minutes to go: Uh oh, we gotta get everyone behind the start line.... 2 minutes to go: last minute instructions to runners, "Oh and by the way, for some reason, someone parked a house on the road, at about the 500 meter mark, uhm, just try and go around it" - you can’t make this stuff up. A glance at the watch, 6:59:48, "12 seconds to go!" By the time those words leave my mouth, "okay 4...3...2...1...Go!"

"...for some reason, someone parked a house on the road... just try and go around it"
- - -

From all accounts, our inaugural marathon was a success. There are of course many things we noticed that will be changed for next year, but overall, everyone seemed really happy. We even managed to qualify 25% of our runners for Boston. We have been lucky to have the local MS Society manage and coordinate a lot of the behind the scenes things. The local mulitisport and running community here in Cornwall have really helped with the race. Our registration, aid station, bike-support, and race-support volunteers were all top-notch. Joe McNamara our resident graphic designer knocked the bibs and medals out of the park; and Cornwall Triathlon Race Director, Rob Allen, not only helped enormously at the half-way mark, but for the past 10 years has set the example on how to put on world-class event.

Thank you to all the local runners who came out for the marathon. Thank you to the TriRudy community for participating. Thank you for the 5K, 10K and half-marathon runners for providing a back-bone to the whole event for without whom, we would not have the base to host a marathon.

If there’s any moral to this story, I suppose it is this: Bumper stickers work. The next time you hear yourself saying, "They should do _______", challenge yourself, "Be the change you wish to see".