Retrospective: Harry Hawkes Summer Raceday

Organising running events is always full on as anyone who has ever done it will tell you. The lead up is busy but the actual race weekend always goes at a different speed to normal life. For the harry Hawkes raceday we started the actual build up on Saturday 22 June, although Jennie and i had been out putting up signs and course checking over the previous 3 days. There was a lot to do on the Saturday, but the team are all enthusiastic runners, so we decide to do a park run before the day starts.

I go to Kingston parkrun which is closest to home and also my official home parkrun. It goes OK with a sub 26minute time which is about where I am at the moment. The rest of the day is moving, erecting, course setting and signing. Not too bad though, finished by about 9pm so time for a meal and couple of glasses of wine before an early night. 

The actual races ( The Ditton Dash 10k followed by the Harry Hawkes 10 mile) is Sunday 23 June. Usual race day 4am start. Good news is that at around the summer solstice it gets light really early and the weather forecast is fine. It’s clear daylight by the time I drive to the start at Giggs Hill Green in Thames Ditton. Coming up the Portsmouth Road all the signs are still in place although I stop to adjust one which has slipped down the pole it is cable tied to. All looks good at the race HQ with the race village Gazebos in place, toilets standing upright (occasionally some joker thinks it funny to push a portable toilet over), and the long line of white stakes still standing, marking the course round the cricket field. 

For this race some of our usual team cant make it, which has meant extra work in advance and more to do on race day. Martin and Sylvester have returned to Poland for a holiday. Don has track meetings over the weekend. My daughters Victoria and Olivia and there partners are all away and my son Alex is currently living in New York. Fortunately I have the support of my long suffering wife Stella who works the registration desk. Quicksilver Event Manager Jennie does everything else with the help of Dave, Paul, Mike and Rhianon, while I run lines of tape between the stakes around the field and make some necessary adjustments to ensure the course is correct. Its tight, but we get the first race, the 10k Ditton Dash under way bang on 08.00 and 200 odd runners set off from the start. Although this is our smallest race we still have loads of direction arrows and volunteer marshals out on the course to ensure the runners get round safely. All goes smoothly and the race finishes 15 minutes before the start of the Harry Hawkes 10 mile race at 09.30. 

The Harry Hawkes had been running since the 1980’s. Originally an 8 mile race it was organised by Thames Ditton Cricket Club until they ran out of energy in 2010, With the involvement of my friend Alan Pemberton we reinstated the event as a 10 mile in 2013 and this was the 7th staging under the KBC Special Events Quicksilver brand. Although not a large race it is extremely popular and always attracts great reviews. This year was no exception and 550 runners completed the race before the 12.00 cutoff. The race is judged a great success with lots of positive comment from runners. 

Running the event is pretty full on, but then there is the breakdown. Fortunately we got this done pretty fast. As it turned out we had one less gazebo to bring back with us. Although not noticed at first, sometime during the night on Saturday the gazebo set up for the PA commentator, which was apart from the main group, had been stolen. Annoying but we have to put it down to operational risk.

Although we cleared the Green and sensitive areas on the course, there is always more to do on the Monday than you expect. Anyone outside of the event world would find it difficult to imagine, but think in terms of cleaning up after a really big party. Bags of mixed rubbish, plastic cups and bottles all need sorting. As far as possible we go through the bags and separate materials before delivering to the recycling centre. There is also lots of kit to get back into our event store. And we need to check the course for rubbish and remove all signage.

This was made more difficult due to the breakdown of my venerable Ford Galaxy which has always been the event workhorse. But Jennie and I put in a very full day and get it sorted. I had planned to run that evening with one of the Stragglers groups but absolutely knackered so decided to leave that one out. Tomorrow instead. Sometimes my own running just has to take the back seat!