People had warned me about how challenging the Mengoni GP was. Little did I know how right they would be.
The first lap pedestrians were few and far between so I made sure to mark only the dangerous ones and hold my position in front of the cones, conserving my energy for the latter laps where anything can happen.
With each passing minute the number of park users grew – even the strongest marshal can’t be expected to cover them all. On lap 3 – I saw a dangerous move coming from an old lady with a poodle – I ran to the curb while simultaneously blowing my whistle to notify other marshals up the road, now totally on the rivet, I pulled the whistle from my mouth and asked her nicely to please take her dog off the park drive…she thankfully complied and asked me if I was interested in meeting her granddaughter who was almost 28 and not married yet. This provided me with some much needed recovery time before the women’s field came by.
This is how it went, a grueling test of endurance, diplomacy and foreign language skills for the better part of and hour and a half. There is no time to eat, go to the bathroom or even take your eyes off the road for a second. The most highly skilled marshals will take some risks and choke down a power gel and take a sip of water from a camel back – but it’s dodgy.
After the final field came through and I shooed away some pigeons, it was natural that I took inventory of my marshal duty. Had I given everything I had? Could I have given more? Did I completely empty my suitcase of courage of all its contents including those tiny side pockets?
Yes, I could have given the rest of my bagel to that homeless guy on lap 5, and I could have dug deeper to stay with those Inuit tourists a bit longer to give them better directions to the Museum of Natural History.
As I picked up my 4 cones and unclipped my filthy fluorescent vest, I was overcome by feelings of exhaustion, accomplishment and relief. And though the results might not reflect it, I held my head high because on this day, I gave it my best.