Tub on the Run


Juneathon Day 1: motorsport marshal yoga

“Winning has nothing to do with racing. Most days don’t have races anyway. Winning is about struggle and effort and optimism, and never, ever, ever giving up.” ~ Amby Burfoot

This is never more so than for endurance racing, whether that is running or motorsport.  This weekend, it was all about the motorsport.

Photo Credit: Matt Hunter

Photo Credit: Matt Hunter

For the first time this year I thoroughly enjoyed marshalling. I had a bit of a bad spell with either the marshalling side or the camping side so far this year.  This time at the British GTs at Silverstone, the sun shone, the electricity in the campsite worked and I was posted on a good post with a nice team.  We were even in the presence of athletic royalty as Chris Hoy donned a different kind of race suit and co-piloted the Nissan GT-R.

Today though, for my contribution to Juneathon, I:

  • Yoga’d.  Yes, I may have looked a little weird to my colleagues, but I really needed to stretch out.
  • Those exercises where you walk quickly with weights (no idea what they’re called).  The marshal version is called “taking the bottles out at the end of the day”.
  • A couple of jogs up and down my sector when incidents started happening.
  • Plenty of fidgeting.  Whether it was windmilling my arms or pacing, I was moving for most of the day.
  • Sweeping.  The GT race was quite eventful so with run offs and a couple of collisons, there was a reasonable amount of debris and stones on the track that needed sweeping off, and quickly, before race control released the final grid of cars.
  • Marshal wombling*: 1.5 head light glasses of a Ginetta G20, 1 carbon fibre undertray of an Audi R8, 1 wing of a McLaren MP412C, 1 Toyota GT86’s oil dumped over the run off which required dressing (read: more sweeping).

Now my feet are sore, my brain is full, my face is a little sunburnt, and I am a content little bunny.

This weekend was Silverstone at its best.

*Wombling being the act of collecting rubbish.  See:  The Wombles.  See also: Traffic Wombles.


The Curse of the Bank Holiday Weekend

Okay, that might be a little extreme, as I enjoyed chilling out on Monday after a busy weekend, but it definitely turned in to one of those weekends…

Last Friday night, Matt and I travelled up to Silverstone and stayed in the Travelodge ready for the following day’s marshalling.  It was the 750MC meeting, which is always a fantastic day of racing.  The day didn’t start off amazingly well, having forgotten my hair bobble.  For those who have been to Silverstone for racing (motorsport or running), you will know just how windy the track is and how essential a hair bobble is.  Thankfully, one of the ladies who I came across had a spare she could lend me which saved me having to use one of the proffered cable ties…  Then, after much rooting around my belongings, it turned out that I didn’t have a cap to wear.  Groan…  Cue sunburnt parting.  Sadly, I wasn’t on the best post in terms of teams either, so despite some really good racing, I didn’t feel that I had the best day.

We were at Thruxton for the BTCC meeting on Sunday (no television appearances for me this time though!), so off we trundled down the A34 to Winchester where we were staying.  My sister lives in Winchester, so we had planned to go out for tea.  As we were sat in traffic on the M3 waiting to turn off, my car had started making funny noises.  And not funny-ha-ha noises either.  Mind you, it had been warm and we had driven a reasonable distance by that point, so I reasoned that it could just be hot.  We checked in at the hotel a short time later and then hopped back into the car to my sister’s house.  Abandoning ship into her car, we were chauffeured to the pub for tea.

As I munched through my (disappointing) pulled pork burger, I could feel my face getting progressively tighter where my sunscreen had failed me.  My nose had become the glowing red beacon of ineffective sunscreen, casting a soft red hue in the cellar of The Royal Oak.  After some tiramisu and a cup of tea back at my sister’s, I felt a bit chirpier.  Alas the feeling did not last long, for as soon as I got back in the car to drive back to the hotel, an amber light of doom appeared on the dash.  Much gnashing of teeth and grumbling occurred while I flicked through my handbook to identify the malevolent amber glow, which turned out to be the power steering light.

Let me say now, I am a child born into the world of power steering.  The only vehicle that I own and have owned that doesn’t have power steering is my motorbike.  I have never driven a car that hasn’t had power steering.  As I reversed out of the space, it became apparent that yes, the power steering had gone and my car, usually light as feather, was now a full blown tank and had the manoeuvrability of a freightliner.  After cussing my way through the bends and praying for straight bits of road, eventually the light went off and the power steering returned.  Ahh… bliss.  Except for the nagging paranoia of “OH GOD WHAT IF IT FAILS MID-CORNER?!?!”.  From the comfort of the hotel, I called my parents.  Dad is a mechanic, and he would know what to do.  Except unfortunately, he was 120 miles away.  By the time I’d finished regaling my parents with my automotive woes, it had gone midnight and I was already grumping at having to get back in the thing that betrayed me (yes, I take it personally).  I was also internally berating myself for not belonging to the RAC or AA this year (“Oh no… my car never goes wrong, why would I need that!”).

Sunday morning came and I was up without too much issue, checking the car for any leaky patches and trying to work out where the power steering fluid reservoir and pump were*.  Mission failed, we hopped in and made our way to Thruxton where we were helping out on the marshal recruitment stand.  No warning light glowed and the power steering was fine.  A nice warm day followed, and we chatted to some friends and explained the role of a marshal to anyone who was interested.  We beat the crowds and started the journey home.  I could hear a pump thudding, knowing it was something power steering related, but unable to do anything about it.  We made it home okay, and as I parked the car, turning it to full lock obviously irritated it and lo – the power steering stopped and I had to park in a relatively tight space, sans assistance.

On Monday, I drove to my parents’ so Dad could take a look.  It turns out that the power steering fluid had run almost dry, and I need to check back whether this has ever been a service item.  Unfortunately, topping it up has not helped and so my car is left, wounded and sad, on my parents’ drive until next pay day when I can take it in.  Of course, it all comes in threes, and my tax and MOT are due this month too!

That has been quite enough excitement for one week, and I have been left wondering “is this what driving in the olden days was like?” (much to my parents’ dismay!).

* Just in case you too suffer the misfortune of having no power steering in a Volkswagon Fox, the reservoir is under the battery, down on the right hand side, near the headlamp unit.


Easter and a Special Birthday

Good Friday marked the start of the week off for Matt and I.  Our first week off since Christmas.  It coincided really well with my first marshalling weekend of the season at Silverstone.  On Friday, instead of making the mad dash up and pitching the tent in the dark, we drove up at a leisurely pace and pitched in daylight.  Once we’d got ourselves unpacked, we went for a bimble around the circuit.  Our friends, H and G (from Slimming World) drove up later on.  It was their first time at Silverstone, and they seemed to enjoy it.


After a night of being freezing cold, despite our little heater in the tent, I marshalled on my least favourite post, Copse Inside.  Nothing ever really happens on Copse Inside, and Saturday was no exception.  The saving grace was my team – they were fantastic and I spent the day with two friends I’d made a couple of years ago.  Unfortunately, after a long day’s marshalling, the evening took a real nose dive.  The ridiculous security team at Silverstone (a contracted out service) decided to unplug our electricity, plunging us into 4 degrees at an alarming speed.  I’d failed to warm up all day, and Matt flat out refused to camp without a heater.  We checked to see if there were any local hotels with rooms, but sadly other holiday makers had beaten us to it.  And so at 9pm, Matt decided enough was enough and we were going home.  We bundled out sleeping bag and blankets in to H and G’s tent for extra layers and made our way back to Devon, stopping off at the McDonald’s at Cribbs Causeway at midnight for some tea.

Sunday was mostly based around us sleeping and getting over some snots that we’d picked up.  It wasn’t a motorsport free day though, and we learnt that the race I was meant to be marshalling that day had been cancelled in the 5th hour because the weather had taken a turn for the worse.

Monday was Dad’s unbirthday.  Because of the way that half-term fell, my sister was due to go back home on the Monday afternoon, so Mum cooked a nice lunch for us all to celebrate his birthday.  We gave him his presents then too.  Mum and Gran gave him a new camera – a Panasonic DMC G5.


Yesterday was his actual birthday, so Mum had the day off, and the four of us went to the West Somerset Railway for the day.  We didn’t have the greatest weather, but it was a nice day out.  Dad is very much into his steam trains, and we have spent many many days at the West Somerset (among other places), and who doesn’t love a steam train!

West Somerset Railway

We alighted at Minehead, where the rain continued while we wandered up and down the town.  It is a shame the weather wasn’t nicer, otherwise we would have walked up to Dunster for a wander around the castle.


Tea was at the Saddler’s Arms in Lympstone on the way home.  We haven’t had food in their for years.  As a family, we used to eat there at least once a month on a Saturday.  The food was plentiful, tasty and budget friendly.  Then, I’m not sure what happened, but it bombed a bit – the prices went up and the quality went down.  I think a lot of the old customers were driven away, and the pub has struggled to get back to its heyday ever since.  A few years have passed so we thought we’d drop it.  It was okay.  Most of our meals were fine, but poor Dad’s was stone cold.  The chef was lovely though and got a replacement as quickly as he could.

So, happy birthday Papa-Tub – we hope you enjoyed taking your camera for a spin!



My successful camping trip

You know those weekends where they’re really good and you collapse into bed exhausted?  Yep?  I’ve had one of them.  I have split this post out, as I can appreciate not everyone will want to read my camping/marshalling ramblings.


For the first time in the four years I have worked where I do, I left for a week off before 9pm.  I get really paranoid that I will have left something huge and it’ll stitch up my team in my absence.  Inevitably, I never do, the company doesn’t cease to trade in my absence, and no commercial incidents happen.  Anyway, M and I left work on Friday (ok, a little bit late) and headed up to Silverstone.  We encountered all manner of weather on our way up, from gale force winds, hail, rain, sunshine, the lot.  As we got closer to Silverstone, the wind didn’t seem to be dying down.  I hate/loathe/despise putting a tent up in the dark and in the wind.  I swear that as soon as we arrived, the wind died.  Putting up the tent was actually easy.  We didn’t do too bad a job of it either.


A weekend of marshalling the British GTs ensued.  I love sports cars.  You can keep your silly F1 cars (though I don’t dislike single seaters as a general rule).  For me, it’s all about the wishlist cars.  I love the sound, the look, the smell (yes, the smell – nothing quite like an early morning pit walk to indulge the petrol sniffer side of me).  I won’t bore you with the details (if you really are that fussed, you can read an excellent report here).

Saturday, I collapsed into bed at 9pm, and slept until 5.30am.  I hadn’t realised quite how sunny it would be, and had neglected to put on sunscreen on Saturday (ouch).  That was soothed though, by a shot of icy cold water, courtesy of the shower that didn’t have an aimable head and spurted out cold water at such velocity as to make me scream (I’m sure the other marshals in the campsite wondered if I was having a When Harry Met Sally moment).  Another day, avec sunscreen and thankfully less wind saw the 3 hour endurance race for the GTs.

At the end of the day, the leader of the post (a “post chief”) had upgraded me, so I have now officially gone from Trainee Marshal to Track Marshal.  That doesn’t actually mean much, except I can now be left to look after Trainees and can apply to do the F1 (which I probably will do, as M wants to do it one day) and Goodwood Revival and Festival of Speed (which I am much more interested in doing).  Otherwise, it will probably be business as usual, with a little bit more responsibility.

Originally, we had planned to camp at Castle Combe on the Sunday night, ready for a day of racing at Combe on the Monday, but we made the decision to stay at the local Travelodge because of a lack of electric hook up at Combe (and therefore, a lack of airbed).  Another great day marshalling.

Food, Exercise and Weigh in

I was quite pleased with myself this weekend, as normally camping is a bad food time for me.  It is definitely much easier to eat complete rubbish when you camp.  However, with a bit of thought and willpower, I made better choices.  M and I found the Tesco at Towcester, so managed a quick trip on Saturday night for supplies on Sunday.  I used my food vouchers at Silverstone for salads.  Now, while the salads weren’t exactly brilliant in their Slimming World values, they were a much better option than others available.

Eating properly last week and over the weekend saw me lose 1.5lbs at Slimming World today.  I had been on track for a better loss, but I’ll definitely accept that.  Especially seeing as my exercise over the weekend was negligible.  I am going to redo last week of my 10k plan, as I didn’t hit the runs at all.  One thing that is bothering me is that I don’t seem to be able to run for 30 minutes like I could at the end of Couch to 5k.  I am sure it’s a mental problem, and I know I have mentioned this problem before.  I definitely seemed to do better with no music on my long run last time out, so I might try podcasts or audiobooks.  I’ve also done a couple of runs on the dreadmill, and I think that’s killing a bit of the joy of running, so I’ll head back outdoors again.

I have the week off, and I am thoroughly looking forward to doing nada (well… kind of nada).