I visited Christchurch in 2006. It is a beautiful city, filled with lovely people and so many fun things to do. One of my dearest friends lives there. I have nothing but happy memories from my visit. And so I was devastated when I heard the news of the earthquake on February 22nd. Luckily my friend and her husband were away, but from what I can gather they came back to a huge mess, and the rebuilding process for the city will be a long one. I can't even imagine what it would be like to just be working away, minding your own business, and then minutes later, half your city is destroyed, there is no electricity or running water, dead bodies lie in the rubble and you have no way of knowing if your loved ones are safe...if you were lucky enough to survive yourself.
So when I heard that Run for Christchurch was going to have a London event, I wanted to be a part of it. I volunteered my services as a marshall, which I was very excited about as I'd never done it before. So yesterday morning I did my long run as per my training plan first and then showed up to Sheen Gate at Richmond Park to marshall the 5k, to which around 120 London based New Zealanders turned up. In the pouring rain! Sas did a wonderful job organising and inspiring people to come along to show solidarity and support.
I was the marshall for the halfway point, where people turned around and went back the way they came to finish. I wore red and black (my dodgy red fleece jumper finally came in handy!) and a little marshall jacket, and had a Kiwi flag! It was very cool! Marshalling is actually really fun. I loved cheering everyone on. There were some seasoned runners at the front of the pack who reached me in less than 10 minutes, but there were also mums and dads out with prams, kids who can't have been more than 8 running the full distance, as well as young professionals, people with walking sticks and All Blacks scarves, and a lady with a little stuffed kiwi mascot called Wanaka :) It was bucketing down at one point, and I was jogging on the spot under my tree to keep warm, but everyone who came up and turned around by my Kiwi flag had a smile on their face.
Initially I was introduced as the token Aussie, but by the end of it, I was told I was now considered an honorary Kiwi. That, and a nice cold Steinlager, made me very happy :)
Me and my fellow marshals!
I suppose the moral of the story is never think you can't do anything in the face of a terrible tragic event. Everyone can do something, even when you're on the other side of the world. It doesn't take much to let people know that you care. And given what has happened in Japan in the last few days, I think we need reminding of that more than ever. Everyone can do something.
And over the Run4Chch weekend, 103 events all over the world raised over $11,000 for the New Zealand Red Cross. Fabulous work everyone!
Kia kaha my friends :)