2. August 2015

Getting lost in a marathon: an extra mile for free

As if the race wasn’t long enough on its own, some runners did not pay enough attention and had to run the extra mile in the Vanguard Way Marathon, a nice and challenging race on scenic trails south of London. A humoristic take on how to get more out of the race than you paid for.

The Vanguard Way is marked, the race organizer’s put a map of the race on the website, every runner got a very detailed route description in form of a lengthy checklist with all landmarks at the start, the trail was marked with color here and there, and some waymarks were attached to trees and fences.

Nevertheless, some people, and I include myself here, managed to get lost once or twice during the marathon. This happens if you don’t study the map carefully beforehand, if you decide spontaneously to put the route description into your backpack as extra weight rather than having it accessible, if you miss the occasional waymark, if you rather feel lucky and charge ahead rather than backtrack in moments of uncertainty, and if you pass those people who are determined to not make any of the aforementioned mistakes.

A few miles after the start, a small group of race participants found themselves in the middle of a small forest (larger forests are a rarity in the UK), having lost the way. Another runner and I decided to charge ahead in the expectation to find another waymark, but then ended up in a neighbourhood. Thanks to modern technology and an idea of the general direction, we knew roughly where to head, but hey, it is a race so we started neighbours for the fastest way to get back on track. Well, nobody was about to cheat their way to the Boston Marathon anyway, so the atmosphere was relaxed.

In total, I managed to get lost another time, passing the world’s first circular park in a tunnel rather than on the designated bridge. While backtracking, I met another runner who was delayed by a traffic accident on his way to the race, and hence had to start ten minutes late. So while I previously helped a few runners to get lost, I saved another runner from getting lost – call it even.