Stephen Day

We’ve discovered in recent weeks that the people who are essential for society to function are not the people we previously assumed. For once supermarket workers, dairy owners and petrol station workers have got their time to shine – admittedly in very worrying and potentially dangerous circumstances. 

Pondering on this led me to wonder under what sort of civil defence emergency would runners become essential to society’s wellbeing. 

Here’s my conclusion. If there were a disaster that wiped out both our internet connections and tar sealed roads it would mean that the only way we had to communicate effectively with each other would be by foot. Perhaps a tsunami or earthquake that destroyed roads, internet cables and cellphone towers. Runners would suddenly be prized for our ability to transport messages to their recipients.  

It would be a little like the role that Mel Gibson had at Gallipoli – but without the gunfire from the hills above.

I imagine that immediately after the disaster Scottish club members would be brought into the Beehive and assigned, one-by-one, as message runners to important officials – the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers, the Director-General of Health, the Police Commissioner and so on. Grant McLean would be assigned to Mike Bush.

Wellington Harriers would be called in a few days later and assigned to key opposition spokespeople and second-tier officials.

Message deliverers would get a hollow civil-defence-endorsed-baton into which would go the essential messages of state. Teams of harriers would transmit the vital messages via those batons, back-and-forth across the apocalyptic, ruined roads.

As the timeline for the disaster progressed, in order to communicate, other people might take to running. They would deliver their own personal messages by foot as well. But if anyone wanted an assurance of quality in their delivery service they would look for the rampant lion symbol. 

If someone wanted to showcase their latest culinary masterpiece on Instagram they would need to turn to an experienced running club member to run the photo around as many followers as possible. The best social media influencers would need to use runners like Fiona Hayvice or Emma Bassett, who could cover hundreds of kilometres displaying the photo to each Instagram follower they passed. Snapchat teenagers might opt for the less expansive but more instantaneous delivery service that James Preston would offer. TikTok users who wanted to share their dance moves would opt for one or both of the Vessiots. 

Running shoe production would be designated as an essential service. Our vital runners would receive whatever shoes they needed to protect their feet, plus some extras to give them something to talk about while on their delivery routes.

Society would look beyond the glitzy sports like rugby, golf, netball, and cricket, and realise that it is the humble runner who keeps us going in times of crisis. 

So, on your next visit to a supermarket or petrol station, give the workers a nod. There is an imaginary scenario under which you know exactly what they’re going through.

Scottish delivering in apocalyptic Feilding: