Monday, 13 August 2012

Making Games - and now its all over!

After my first shift I had a couple of days 'off'.
I managed to finish my GamesMaker socks.

On the Tuesday I went to watch the Men's Triathlon in Hyde Park.
Triathlon leaders
It was great to be in the crowd and hear the support for the Brownlees - and also for all the other athletes as they came round the run. all we saw of the cycling was teh helmets flying past in the background, but every lap a GamesMaker came down to tell us how the race was panning out.

I worked every athletics session from Wednesday morning to Saturday evening – lots of excitement but not much time for blogging about it. This post is a collection of memories, partly prompted by the photos I took.
My main role was as ‘buggy driver’, this meant driving or co-driving a buggy for putting out the hurdles; collecting the athletes’ kit boxes and taking them to the finish; giving injured athletes a lift; and any other delivery jobs that are needed.
I also helped the track team at the start and finish of the session – putting out drinks and seating for field athletes;  collecting litter from the track and infield;  setting out landing beds for high jump and pole vault .....  and reversing all that at the end of the session.
Rolling the bed public
We were fortunate to have a hard working team, with a lot of experienced people so all went smoothly. As the week went on I got to know some of the folk better – there was a big spread of ages, and people tended to gravitate into age groups, but everyone got on well together. Towards the end as the hurdle sessions were over, much of our work as concentrated at the beginning and end of the session and we were able to go and eat together which was great.
Towards the end of the week we began to clear away the gear to make space for the closing ceremony – some equipment needed to be kept for the Paralympics, while other stuff would not be needed.
Rolling the bed
We were able to see snatches of the events  from the entrance tunnels while waiting to be called on for our duties.

The team
Highlights included watching the Men’s Decathlon Pole Vault, this went on long after all the other events had finished, but many in the crowd stayed on, so there was plenty of atmosphere.
Pole vault
I was lucky enough to see Mo Farah’s 5K race, Steve Redgrave’s description of the wall of sound travelling round the stadium with him was exactly right.
Farah moves ahead
Farah lap of honour
Although I didn’t see the 100m relay final, I DID see the medal ceremony.

Gold no 3
A great ending to Saturday evening was Mo’s medal presentation.

Farah Gold no 2

A perfect ending to a fantastic experience.

Monday, 6 August 2012

First Games shift

Behind the scenes at the games are 80,000 volunteers – the GamesMakers. Some of us are fortunate to be working on the ‘Field of Play’ – we get to work in amongst the athletes and Technical Officials. The real heroes  are the GMs who are either at the front of house – meeting and greeting, pointing out the way to go, seeing everyone safely home; and the ‘back office’ people – logistics, cleaning and tidying ........
Our FoP squad is pretty big, and those of us on duty had a team photo today:
Gamesmaker team

This first shift took me into the stadium on Sunday evening – a session which included the women’s 400m hurdles. We put the hurdles out, they ran, we collected them in again.
We get to see the action from the end of the access tunnels – and managed catch a photo of the hurdling.
Hurdling well
I only have my small camera, with not too many settings to choose from, so it can be a bit of a blur, as these steeplechasers were:
We also had the Womens 400m last night with Christine Ohurugu winning Silver:
Ohuruogu wins silver
And finally Bolt proved he can still do it when it matters.
After all the excitement there is the tidying to do.
The hurdles were collected in, but finished at the wrong end of the stadium, we had to wait until the end to take them back to the storage area. They have to be checked over and any damaged ones sent for repairs.
The hammer cage has to be frogged – there are winding handles on each of the uprights, but the handle is rather high and I had struggled to turn the handle over the top of its turn – faster they said – but I couldn’t – must remember not to be volunteered for that again.
The drinks bottles have to be sorted and the used bottles sent for recycling, with the unused ones saved for tomorrow.
The high jump beds are collected and put to sleep.
The steeplechase hurdles are wheeled away.

Eventually I join the crowds thronging out of the park and catch the bus home. Sleeping was not easy though I was tired, my head was full of logistics.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

London 2012 - first post

How I got here.
I started running about 10 years ago, because walking round the field at the running track was better than sitting inside with cups of tea while RunnerBeanz was training. I never really lost the weight that I had hoped to lose, but I did discover the buzz. Ran a couple of marathons and several more half marathons. Eventually a knee injury and my weight combined to make it foolish to continue.
Some time later I began to marshal at races, and there is a buzz to that too. Little did I know then that that volunteering to stand out in the sun, wind and rain encouraging others to keep going would lead me to the Olympic Stadium. One of the clubs I belonged to needed accredited officials to continue to operate its annual 10K, so I was volunteered. I have never made it very far up the rankings, it is remarkably difficult to get the experience needed to progress – a bit of a closed shop, which living into two different regions at the same time has not helped.
When London won the bid, I did resolve to go and see at least one event. When they asked for volunteers and UKA provided a short cut for accredited officials I signed up to marshal the marathon – as an endurance official that was the obvious route. Nine months later I was interviewed and assured there would be a place for qualified officials and that we would be asked to marshal at all the road events – bike and athletics. Last summer I marshalled at the Road Bike test event – but failed to post the blog I wrote, too late now....
Back in January I heard that I had been selected to be a GamesMaker in Field of Play in the Stadium!! Even better my good friend Jane had said that I could stay in her home during the games – 20 minutes on the bus from the stadium. That offer has made all the difference, as I was able to stay with Jane on visits for training.
After an orientation training at Wembley, in April we got our first trip to the Olympic Park and seeing its amazing buildings.

Swimming wing
 And into the stadium for the first time, including going out on to the track. Everyone stood around oohing and aahing.

First sight
In May I we went back to work on the BUCS championships – the test event for the arena. Scoreboards in action now.
By now I knew I would be driving a buggy at the games.
This week we came back for the dress rehearsal – now in GamesMaker uniform and driving the buggy!

buggy driving
Tonight I have my first real event in front of the crowds in the stadium and millions more watching on TV. If you spot me it is probably because I have taken a wrong turning!