One of my goals for the month was to volunteer at a race.
I really appreciate volunteers. They are often responsible for the success of a race. They direction runners at all the turns, give out water and medals and do it in heat and frigid temps.
I know I should volunteer more often or at least once a year, but I am selfish.
I want to race not watch others race.
I’ve only volunteered once and it was in 2010 for a 15K when that distance was too long for me.
So I signed up to work at the HMRRC Winter Series #6 – the Marathon & Marathon Relay (since I wasn’t planning to run in it.)
I choose the late shift – 12-3 pm and hoped that it wouldn’t be an unbearably cold day.
Well, it was so COLD that they postponed the race a few weeks until today.
And of course, today was cold but not as cold and windy as it has been. But there was NO sun unlike yesterday.
I arrived at UAlbany, the race location, a little early and signed in. They gave the volunteers either a hat, gloves or a sweatshirt.
I got scheduled for post #8 – on the outer loop at the farthest point from the start. I was to be with a guy named Steve so we got our orange flag, yellow vest and drove one car over.
And we just stood there waiting for runners to come by.
It wasn’t a big race but a long one – a marathon and a marathon relay. Sometimes we waited awhile for a runner. But almost each one thanked us for volunteering. Having run many races here, I know how important volunteers are.
If cars came by, we had to make sure they stopped and let the runners go by. But on a Sunday, there wasn’t much traffic.
It was nice not being out there alone. When there was a lull in the race, Steve and I chatted. About running, what else?
But the biggest problem was the cold. It was cloudy with snow flurries and very cold. I was dressed very warmly – thermal shirt and pants under a fleece and tights. I was even wearing a long down coat. However, after an hour, I could no longer feel my toes. The hand warmers that they gave us were not helping.
The wind had picked up which made it feel colder than it was. And of course, not running but standing still made it worse.
The race organizers drove by twice offering us hot chocolate or coffee and more hand warmers.
Still, I counted down the hours and anxiously waited for the last runner to pass us.
Finally it was over and we drove back.
I hung out inside to warm up having hot soup, bread, etc.
The race organization also gave you a $15 gift card to Dicks if you volunteered once and ran at least 3 races (I ran 5 races and already used it to buy more GU.)
Even though I froze out there, I am still glad that I did it.
If you run races, you know that they cannot happen without people directing the runners, stopping traffic and handing out water…even on the coldest or warmest days.
But I think my next volunteering stint will be in warmer weather!!
Happy Running! Do you often volunteer at races?