Misadventures with wine, weights, and running shoes.

My Top Five Reasons for Why YOU Should Volunteer at a Race

Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Allow me to kick this post off by first saying, I've been plagued by writers block, a sinus infection, and some really craptastic (yes that's a word...or at least it is a word to me and that is all that counts) weather. I don't mind running in the cold and windy. I do have trouble running in rain and ice though. Well, actually it is the driving in the ice that is the issue and I have to drive to the places that I choose to run since it really isn't safe to run the streets where I live. We have had several hit and runs over the last year or so. I really do not wish to be a local statistic. 

That having been said, the weather should be break this evening and I'm slated for a holiday fun run tomorrow evening. Hell yeah!!

Anyway...on to the Meat and Potatoes  - or what I prefer to call the Cupcakes and Coffee...

Course Monitor - Annapolis Striders
Anniversary 15k
It was cold...very very cold. 
Sunday, my running club held its Anniversary 15k. I did not run in it. I wanted to, but I didn't. Instead, I chose to volunteer and help with set-up and course monitoring. This has not been the first time that I volunteered to help with a club event. It will not be my last either. 

So why should YOU volunteer for a local race? 

1.) Volunteers are the heart and soul of a race.

From the planning and organizing to the water stops and clean up, if it was not for the volunteers, there would not be a race. The majority, if not all, of people working to put on a local community race are unpaid volunteers. 

2.) There is no experience necessary. 

2013 Dawson Father's Day 10 K - Water Stop
Photo courtesy of Jon M. Valentine
Pour and hand out water, direct runners in the correct direction, hand out post race snacks, pull timing chips...these are all important jobs and require no experience, however; that does not make them any less important or appreciated. 

Of course, there are also skilled opportunities in some races. Are you a Nurse or EMT? Sign up for the first aid station. Are you an artist? How about volunteering your skills to design the shirt, flyers, or ads. 

3.) You gain a new appreciation for all the hard work that occurs behind the scenes.

Way before the event date, there is planning - picking a date, securing a location, gaining the permits, notifying the public, having awards made, designing and ordering shirts, coordinating registration and packet pick up. A number of these individuals have full time jobs, are parents, and they are runners. So after they put in their eight hour day, tuck their little ones in, and squeeze in a training run, they are helping to plan a race.

When race day hits, these are the same men and women that are working there butts off to get everything in its place before the gun fires at the race start. 

Volunteering is a chance to be an integral part of the process. 

4.) You make a difference.

 It was at a water stop during my first Half Marathon, where a volunteer cheered me on with "You are doing amazing! You've got this! You are almost there!" At that moment I realized that she was right, I really was almost there.  Adrenaline kicked in at that point and I actually breezed through the rest of the race. 

What would the outcome have been without that motivation? I would have probably still finished but would it have been as easy? No, I don't think it would have. Volunteers make a difference.  They increase runner morale. In turn, being there to cheer them on is as equally as motivating to the volunteers. Seeing my running buddies out on the course inspires me to keep training; to keep striving for new goals. 

5.) It is just nice to do something in return; to pay it forward.

Rather than being that runner that takes the club or organization for granted, be the runner that gives back. It is easy to do and just as rewarding as running in the race. 

In closing, if you can't volunteer (or even if you do volunteer) show those volunteers some love. Let them know they are appreciated. Let them know they make a difference. Make them want to come back and do it again. 

6 comments on "My Top Five Reasons for Why YOU Should Volunteer at a Race"
  1. Volunteer's are the best part of the race for me. I have had the same pep talk at the water stations that spurred me on when I wanted to quit. Thank you for the great post, I will be volunteering in 2014 with our running club because of it.

    1. Anita, Volunteers are the best part for me too. In most cases I know a lot of the people giving there time to a race so it is a chance to catch up and get some moral support from good friends. You will have to keep me posted on your volunteer experience next year.

  2. Volunteering isa great experience. Not only does it give you a chance to give back, it also allows you a peak 'behind the scenes' of a race, giving you a better understanding and appreciation o what it takes to make an event successful. Volunteering also allows to you participate in an event that you may otherwise be able to, due to injury or your training schedule.

    1. Totally agree, Yuri. I've been injured in the past and rather than sit at home, I took advantage of the down time and volunteered. It was a great experience.

  3. I agree that volunteering is a great opportunity to give back to the running community. If I can't run a race than I usually try to volunteer for one. Especially when one of the perks is a free/discounted future event.

    1. I wish more local organizations would offer a discount to a future event at the very least. I often hear how an event will be down on volunteer numbers and think, wow, I'm sure if they started and incentive program of some type those numbers would go up.