A&E sister Josephine Octobre isn’t sure whether it’s the rhino or the panda she’s looking forward to seeing the most, when she looks out on Brighton’s King’s Road, by the beach, one Sunday morning this April.
But it’s not some kind of south coast safari that Josei’s going on. It’s the return – the full return – of the Brighton Marathon that she’s looking forward to.
Josei’s not running it though. She’s volunteering. One of an army of 150 doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers from UHSussex who give up their time to work alongside St John’s Ambulance colleagues and make sure the event can go ahead. Because, make no mistake, without them, it just doesn’t happen.
The Brighton Marathon returns to the city for the 13th time on Sunday 10 April. It was cancelled along with everything else back in 2020, and last year it took place in September, rather than its usual April slot, and even then it was with a reduced field and reduced crowds.
This time it feels like the real thing. And Josei can’t wait.
“This will be my sixth time volunteering – my first one was back in 2016. Last year wasn’t the same, with reduced crowds and runners, so I am really looking forward to seeing it back, with huge crowds, loads of noise – it’s one of the best days of the year!” said Josei.
Josei, who is based at the Royal Sussex County Hospital, in Brighton, said: “On Marathon day I will be in the tent at the finish line. It’s something very different from A&E and the work I do in the hospital. But it is still being ready to care for people.
“There’s a big difference in the type of patients you see because, they’re all just so happy to have finished the marathon, you know, to have got across that finish line. So it’s really like a cheerful vibe. Everyone is really happy.
“Of, course sometimes there can be someone with serious health issues and we are equipped to deal with that but generally the people we are seeing are very fit but they will be suffering in the short term because they’ve just run 26 miles!
“A lot of what we do is sticky plasters and Vaseline for bleeding nipples. So first time runners need to be ready for that!”
Josei, who has been with the Trust since 2013, added: “It’s a really nice type of care to provide, in the main, you know. Especially after the pandemic where we were looking after the sickest of the sick. It is brilliant to see the clinical and the non-clinical volunteers working as one team to care for the runners.
“And the camaraderie between the runners and the crowds and the volunteers – between us all – is fantastic. As a volunteer you get to meet so many people from all over the Trust and other hospitals too. And its right by the sea, so on a break you can have an ice cream on the beach and cheer the runners on.”
And that includes ones dressed as a rhino. Or a panda.
Josei added: “I love the people dressed up as animals when they run. Hopefully Rhino man will be running and then there’s the Panda’s and Panda Bridge. So, the crowds will be back and so will the costumes. I will definitely give them a cheer!”
Volunteers are still welcome so if you are interested in helping out at the Brighton Marathon please do register.
If anyone has any specific questions, please do not hesitate to contact Carrie Weller, Operations Manager for the Marathon Medical Team.