Red Cross staff and volunteers pose for a photo. They provide first aid during the Asics Greater Manchester Marathon

If you’re taking part in a sporting event this year, you might meet someone like Andy Owen. He’s an event first aid volunteer for the British Red Cross.

Every year, Red Cross staff and volunteers like Andy help out at lots of different events, including sporting ones. So, they know a thing or two about sports injuries.

We caught up with Andy before the Asics Greater Manchester Marathon to find out more:

Andy Owen volunteering at the Asics Greater Manchester MarathonI’ve always had an interest in first aid, and started volunteering at events when I was at university.

I’ve had the chance to oversee first aid at events across the UK, from music festivals and road races all the way through to volunteering at adventure races like Tough Mudder.

The Asics Greater Manchester Marathon is billed as the UK’s flattest, fastest marathon.

As such, lots of experienced runners take this as their opportunity to really push themselves and try for a new personal best. Lots of first-timers also pick this course to tackle the most iconic challenge in sport.

Race day

On the day of the race, some 130 Red Cross staff and volunteers are present. It’s a really busy day for everyone.

The atmosphere is amazing, and the opportunity to support people doing something incredible by raising money for good causes makes it so worthwhile.

We see the same Red Cross volunteers from across the UK coming back year after year to help at this particular event. We even have people coming down from Scotland to help look after the runners.

Rain or shine, we are here cheering and looking after anyone who needs first aid. It’s a really special thing to be part of.

First aid for sports

We’ve helped deal with a range of first aid scenarios at the Manchester marathon in previous years.

Sprains and strains are the most common injuries we see. We also deal with injuries from people slipping.

A few people collapse or experience diabetic emergencies after burning through all their sugar, or become too dehydrated in the final miles of the race.

A Red Cross event first aid volunteer helps a runner during the Asics Greater Manchester MarathonAndy’s top tip for runners

Nothing should stand in the way of someone pursuing their love of running, and the health and social benefits it brings are massive. But from time to time injuries and accidents do happen.

Even though running is a relatively low-risk activity, I think it’s important that people feel confident and willing to help their running buddies when faced with a first aid emergency.

My top tip is to learn some basic first aid. Learning first aid boosts confidence levels and I think it’s definitely a life skill everyone should have.

Fortunately, first aid is really easy to learn and it doesn’t take long to get to grips with the basics.

The Red Cross has got some great free first aid resources for runners, as well as a free first aid app that helps people learn what to do in a whole range of scenarios.

The great thing about the app is that it’s on your phone and works offline in remote places, so you’ll always have first aid at your fingertips.

If you decide to take your learning further, the Red Cross also offers first aid courses across the country. Our trainers will help you learn simple, effective first aid, and gain the confidence to take action.