Brilliant Surrey-based rock covers Broken Switch helped avert a disaster at a windy Surrey Half Marathon this month when part of a giant old oak tree smashed across the route just before the race got underway.

The band were preparing to play their brand of loud, lively music to help spur on the runners from a spot next to the Jolly Farmer pub, in Worplesdon, south of Woking, when a violent gust of wind sent huge branches crashing into the road, blocking part of the 13-mile route.

Band members tried to move them but it was impossible.

‘They weighed a ton. It had been touch and go whether race would go ahead because of the weather warnings for the weekend about the wind,’ said keyboard player and vocalist Rich Browning.

‘It was brilliant that the race went ahead, it was a fantastic event, but that tree could have easily killed about five runners if it had come down during the race.’

The driver of a Land Rover Defender tried to tow it off the road but the car became stuck in a ditch.

Broken Switch drummer Andy Wickes called the race organisers and a service vehicle was dispatched.


Within minutes the tree had been cut up with a chainsaw and minutes later the runners started to appear.

Broken Switch saved the day! Runners at the finish line were said to be buzzing not just about the race but about the band’s performance too. The wind gave it an extra edge.

A race organiser said:

‘We want to send a massive thank you for your performance on the day, we had many people talking about it in the event village post race! Hopefully we will see you guys next year with less wind!’

The band played classic rock tunes including from the Rolling Stones’ Jumping Jack Flash to Martha and the Muffins’ Echo Beach plus some Ramones, Buzzcocks, Beatles and classic marathon runner-pleaser 500 Miles by The Proclaimers.

‘The runners were very appreciative of our music, but they probably weren’t aware of our life-saving skills,’ said Rich.

Broken Switch were formed at the Realistic Rock Academy, Epsom, in 2009 and have been playing fundraisers, private parties and several marathons around Surrey ever since.

Next up is a charity black-tie ball for the Ocumel eye cancer charity followed by one in Hoxton on Tuesday April 2, in aid of the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, which everyone is invited to.