Sound familiar? It takes a lot of work, not just on our parts as runners, but also on the part of race directors, race staff, volunteers, and sponsors. My parents raised me to say 'please' and 'thank you,' so I tend to say thank you to as many volunteers as I can because they are taking time out of their day so that I can run. I've been known to thank the course marshalls as I'm running through a busy part of Central Park. They don't have to do it. They're volunteering.
I ran my first race in 2006 but didn't really get into it until the next year and didn't volunteer for one until 2008, when NYRR changed the marathon qualifying requirements to include one volunteer credit in addition to finishing 9 races. I have to admit, I'm so glad they did this because if they hadn't, I don't know if I would have volunteered. I've only volunteered for two races (I run as many as I can!) and the one last year was particularly cold and dreary, but I'm glad I've done it. When I decided not to try for the NYC Half Marathon this year I did decide to volunteer for it. Yesterday I delighted to see that there were positions available to work at the expo! Yes, it's a cushy indoor job, but it's still volunteering when I'll be able to help runners and their families and see the excitement the day before the big race! I ran the NYC Half in 2008. That morning, instead of waking up to my alarm clock, I woke up to thunder and lightening. Immediately I was concerned for Gracela, who I knew was on her way at that dark hour to the race course to help set up the fluid station where she was going to be working for the next 4 or so hours. Countless volunteers wake up before the sun is out and work through rain, heat, sleet, snow, any and every weather condition so that we can run and strive for a PR.
As runners, I think it's important for us to give back and help other runners when we can. Yeah, we pay race fees, sometimes very high ones, but a lot of work goes into the events and they can't happen without volunteers. So, today I'm urging you to find a race near you, take a day off from running, and volunteer your time and support. Cheer on the runners who are pushing their way through a tough hill, hand them water when they put out their hand, and congratulate them on a great accomlishment and all the hard work they've done to get there. I've really enjoyed my experiences and can't wait to do it again! We're all lucky to be part of a great running community and part of being in a community is supporting it, not just benefiting from it.
If you're in NYC, head over to the NYRR site and check out the volunteer opportunities. They're still looking for volunteers for Run for Haiti this Saturday. (Inside tip: I've heard Paula Radcliffe, Ryan Hall, Grete Waitz, Deena Kastor, Meb Keflezighi and other pros are running!) I would be there in a flash, but my Mom is coming into town for the weekend. Perhaps we'll stop by and see the excitement! If you're not in New York, check with local running stores and races you've done in the past to see how to get involved. Take a little time to give back!
It takes a lot of work and a lot of people to keep all these runners moving!
Today's questions: Have you volunteered for a race? Any good/funny stories? What did you like best about volunteering?
Before I sign off today, I have to say THANK YOU! I logged on this morning to see that I now have 53 followers! I really can hardly believe it and am so thankful for all of you who read my blog regularly, who are reading it for the first time today, and who comment on the various topics I ramble on about each day! I really had no idea what to expect back in August when I started this journey, but I am constantly surprised and amazed by all I learn from the blogging community and the friendships I have started. This little blog was started so I could share my experiences and the little bits of knowledge I pick up while trying to live a healthier and full life. Not surprisingly, I have learned and continue to learn from all of you, and I appreciate that more than you know! I hope you continue to enjoy this blog, learn a thing or two along the way and keep commenting!