A day out at Brighton typically calls to mind hot doughnuts, fresh fish and chips and playing on the pebbly beach…
However on 17th April 2016, 40 members of the Ismaili Volunteer Corps (IVC) made the journey to Brighton on a cloudy, drizzly day for the annual Brighton Marathon where approximately 11,000 runners pounded the streets of Brighton in a 26.2m race to the finish line. Continuing a five year tradition of participating in the Brighton Marathon, the enthusiastic IVC volunteers stood at mile 20, 6.2 miles before the finish line (and where some athletes are known to “hit the wall”) to deliver runners with the gift of water.
This was my third time volunteering at the Brighton Marathon and it was as enjoyable as always. Cheering and motivating the runners was exhilarating and watching their faces turn into smiles whilst they picked up the pace was incredibly rewarding.
Arriving in the morning at mile 20, we were greeted with folded tables, pallets of bottled water, hydration gels and cups. Through the IVC tradition of working as one team, we swiftly moved into action; setting up tables, filling up cups of water and getting ourselves into position. Mile 20, regarded as an “elite water station”, is the location of the hydration drinks for the top 10 resilient runners aiming to break records. They came through at an incredible pace, grabbed their own bottles and seamlessly pushing forward.
Twenty minutes later, I turned to see the first group of runners coming through the bend - we were ready in position and gave out the first cup. Wow! The first few runners had swung past and there were many more to follow. For the next three hours, hundreds and hundreds of runners came through mile 20, taking a glass or two from our hands and being cheered on. Hearing thank you from the runners for our efforts seemed undeserved but demonstrated to us the contribution we made on the day.
Volunteering at the Brighton Marathon was a beautiful way of reaching out and offering our service. Each one of us made a difference to the athletes and to us it may just have been a cup of water but at mile 20, for those runners, it was sustenance.