Words by Sarah Barker
As race volunteers go, you could do a lot worse than Keith Byrne. Super-chipper at dark-thirty in the morning? Eternal summer of the feet? Ah yes, that Keith Byrne.
Byrne’s job at last year’s UTMR was to brief runners in the morning, then scurry quick to the finish line and get that ready, all with minimal direction. Oh, and being more outgoing than the rest of the race staff put together, Keith was nominated to be the MC at the prize-giving, or as he put it, “I got to be the MC.”
One of Keith’s favorite moments was sartorial in nature: “The special guest to start the race was the oldest mountain guide in Gressoney. He was dressed in traditional local clothing and looked incredibly smart. Stood alongside him was myself, in a down jacket, shorts and flip flops. The contrast was immense.”
Some other observations he made are:
– Monte Rosa is a mountain paradise that not enough trail runners have ever experienced
– Stage racing is the perfect balance between racing and sheer enjoyment
– Lizzy and her team are brilliant and will do everything in their power to give you the best experience
– If you can’t race but want to be part of this special event, then volunteering is an equally brilliant experience
That really narrows down the number of excuses not to participate in UTMR 2016 now, doesn’t it? I’m going to finish off what Keith has started by saying that he’s pointed his flip-flops toward Cervinia, has taken off work, booked his ticket, and is working on some crowd-pleasing jokes for this year’s prize-giving. Go ahead—try to resist that!