“If you’re last out, lock the door and leave the key under the mat,” I was told by a very nice lady in the house I’m staying in, “the key will be left in the door until the last person leaves.” But there is no key in the door. With astute and rapid reasoning I realise the only other option is to climb out one of the windows.
I run to the kitchen but there’s no climbing out of it because the window is the sort that opens in at an angle from the top; the living room is the same, as is the bedroom and my one last hope of escape is the bathroom. It’s starting to look like I picked the wrong weekend to quit drinking coffee.
Relieved to find the bathroom window somewhat climb-out-able, I squeeze out, head first, through it and have to balance my hand on the outside ledge before subsequently hefting my legs out. One slip of my hand and I might easily go head first into the pavement several feet below, break my neck and be left here dead for days before anyone were to find me. What a stupid way to die, I think and, in my imagination, I can hear family members commenting, “Typical of Richard and all the stupid things he gets up to. Great guy, but what a heedless bastard.” (At least I hope they would be this kind).
The clock is tick, tick, ticking and I manage to squeeze myself and all my belongings out of the window to get to the starting area. I still need to get a concept of the route so as to find a good vantage point which is suitable for capturing shots of all 1900 participants of all three events – the 10KM, the half-marathon, and the full-marathon. I should probably have figured this out the night before but there’s nothing like arriving woefully underprepared to get one’s adrenaline pumping and one’s mind razor sharp.
Having a few minutes to spare, I leisurely head towards a part of the course where I can take a photo of the front of the pack for the cover shot. But then I spot a large bunch of keys, including a car key, and get it into my head that one of the participants will no doubt be fretting over losing them and his or her race and entire day will be ruined on account of it. I have 8 minutes to go half a mile back to the start line, find this person and save them from a day of anguish and so I do a Mo Farah on it, reach the start line, hand the keys to the announcer, breathlessly explain the story, and sprint back to my vantage point, sweating profusely, and within a minute a massive herd of runners is upon me.
I take one or two shots of the group and I trundle back the course to find a nice spot to take photos and it isn’t long before the first runners come charging down the road towards me.
I’m really excited waiting to see Adrianne Haslet, who I mentioned in this post, approaching and no words can describe the feelings that she elicited in all who were present at her talk the previous night. I think it’s safe to say that every single person in the room fell in love with her a little bit.
“Are you The Galway Cow?” I get asked on multiple occasions as I’m popping off photos, and I find it startling that so many people know me and I’ve taken to answering with a simple Mooooo which cracks everyone up more than the pavement did Humpty Dumpty when he fell off that big ass wall.
The spirit of inclusion, which is all about making such events like this something for every person on the planet to enjoy, regardless of physical capability, is strong at this event and three such examples are below.
More familiar runners stop for a chat and some even for a quick hug and I really don’t know a single time in my life where I have felt such a tremendous amount of love from so many people. I’m so stupidly tired at this point that I’m actually struggling to lift my camera and have only eaten one salad in the last 48 hours, but the sense of warmth, community and inspiration at this event are at levels I haven’t felt since I photographed the Achill event by Donna McLoughlin from the windy Isle. Some of the outstanding people I’ve met are below.
I had seen on her Facebook the night before that she was coming to run in Clonakilty with her boyfriend, Francy McManus, but I haven’t seen her or him all morning and am a little bit worried about them. I also find myself a little bit concerned about another chap called Michael Mcenery who is running 200 miles, in three days, at Christmas as part of a fundraiser for the Cancer Society and Cystic Fibrosis. Five hours go by and there’s no sign of any of them, which is unusual for these very fit people. It occurs to me that I’m like a worried parent waiting for children that haven’t arrived home at 3am in the morning. Eventually, I encounter them all and they perform their usual theatrics and, though it’s silly of me, I breath a small sigh of relief.
I realise the “worried parent” thing of the previous paragraph is a bit ridiculous but at the same time I think that all these people I’ve come to know and love, and everybody, everything, and even life itself is part of a timeless, ageless, infinite journey and that we are all, in one way or another….
Children of the road…….