The first Bank Holiday of the year saw me set sail for the Isle of Wight. The Action Challenge Ultra event is taking place and I am working amongst a team of massage therapists providing participants with a quick flush out to relieve aching muscles.
The event is spread over the weekend with six different options available, starting at Chale on the southern tip of the island there is a 52 km walk, run or jog along the coast to Cowes. This can be continued on to a full tour returning to Chale covering a total distance of 106km. This can be done either with an overnight stop at Cowes or the very hardy can continue through the night. The Sunday morning has a start option from Cowes to Chale a distance of 54km, there are also two 25km events covering either the first or last quarters of the route.
Michael from Function Jigsaw organised a team of therapists from across the country. I meet up with Vicky one the other therapists on the ferry and we travel on to our first work station which is at the 52km mark at Northwood House in Cowes. We arrive, drop our couches off at the medical tent and go and grab a bite to eat before our shift starts. The food is excellent, there is plenty of hot food available to suit all tastes and lots of cake and sweet treats to fuel the participants.
After going through the signing in procedure with our supervisor Kirsty we start at 5.00 and don’t get an opportunity to stop until somewhere between 9 and 10. There is a continual stream of folks, some having finished the event, some having finished for the day with the second half of the event to do the following day, others are continuing throughout the night all looking for some relief from their aching muscles. The treatments vary according to whether the individual is continuing or not and are kept short to keep the waiting times down and we concentrate on the key areas as requested. There is still a steady number of people coming in for a massage and we eventually pack up about 1.00 in the morning. I head off to my tent in a bid to get some rest whilst Michael and Jai head off to one of the other stations to do an overnight shift.
I wake in the morning to a bright but chilly morning. I grab some breakfast, have a chat with some of the competitors before heading off to the finish at Chale where I am due to start at 11.00. All the competitors get scanned at each of the main stations and from that the organisers are able to track their progress. This also gives us information regarding the numbers of people still out on the course. Michael realises that we have a potential problem at the 80km station at Culver Down with a large number of folks still to pass through that point and not enough therapists on hand. Initially Michael and Holly head up to Culver Down and soon after I head up there too.
Some of the same faces from yesterday are popping in again for a massage and it’s nice to catch up and see how they have been progressing. With the rush over and the majority of people having passed through the 80 km mark I drive back to Chale to finish my shift. We are due to finish at 9.00 as most people are expected to be finished by then but we can not work later than 10.00 as we have a ferry to catch. We see more familiar faces and congratulate them on their achievement. We pack up just before 10.00 and head off back to Cowes to catch the ferry.
It was the first time that I have done any event work of this nature and it was thoroughly enjoyable. Action Challenge run very well organised events with excellent facilities for all the participants from great food, to medical staff and podiatrists as well as us the massage therapists. Thanks go to all involved in the running of the event and especially to Michael at Function Jigsaw and his team – Holly, Jai, Kate, Kirsty, Rowan, Ryan, Shalina, Ting and Vicky. I look forward to working with you again sometime in the future. Thanks also to the lady who requested me for her massage at the finish for her kind, confidence boosting words, unfortunately I was unable to deal with the request as each therapist deals with the next person in the queue, maybe next time.