For us as marshals, we had a really early morning start. And I mean early. 04:45. Now if you’re not a morning person, you might be wondering “What on earth? Why so early?” However, there is a method to the madness, promise! In order to be fully prepped for the day, we need to have a pre-event briefing. This is to find out where we’ve all been posted, as this is a massive event and there are several locations where we’ll be needed to assist Metro police and the 702 Foot Marshals. It also gives us an idea of what is expected of us on the day. For any newbies, this is especially important – though all trainees are assigned an Accredited Marshall for any event in order to show them the ropes. I know that I appreciated that – that way you don’t feel like you’ve been dropped into the deep end!
This was the first 702 Walk the Talk that I took part in and I must say that the size of the event was quite intimidating. Another reason for the briefing was because without clarity about who is doing what, there would be absolute chaos! Considering there were 50000 walkers expected…you can see why this event had to be run as well as it is.
The brisk, winter morning was crisp and clear – so a slightly chilly start to the race. Once the race was underway, many of the roads in Jo’burg were closed and traffic had to be re-routed…which is quite hectic considering I am not from Jo’burg. Eek! Most of those drivers looking to get to their sport matches or class (on Sunday?!?) or get “just over the road” understood – after we reminded/explained what was happening. Some were not. However, our duty is to protect the walkers and ensure that the race goes smoothly. The most puzzling drivers were the ones who had to get to the start of the race…and we were at the halfway mark of the 15km!
The walkers who passed by were amazing and not just in number. We had the “professional mourners” (as they call themselves), those walking for different causes, the guy with the boom box, “the choir”…all sorts of people, taking in the sights and sounds of Jo’burg.
I don’t envy the organisers, especially those trying to deal with everyone AFTER the race…traffic comes to a standstill. Getting all of the 50 000 people out of the parking lot was quite a challenge – especially since certain tempers were frayed. After things had calmed down, we regrouped for a debriefing and discussed any problems, interesting titbits and good things that had happened so that we can relay it to the organisers in order to improve the event for next year. All in all, it was a long and challenging day, but a good day! Check out MTN Walk The Talk with 702 for photos and more.