How To Give Back on Race Day
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There was a time I ran all the races. Lately, I have had to choose the races I want to run because I don’t have the funds to register or travel to them, or I was injured. Luckily there are still ways to be active and part of race day.
I have done many things to pay it forward, or give back to a race. Here are some of the things I have done, and ways to help:
- Packet Pickup – Participants will come to you and you will give them your things. Really Simple job, and usually shifts are available. The toughest part can be double checking IDs.
- Expo – This can be a more involved task, with physical labor required. You may need to move a water cooler, sign, or stantion. you might also be required to stand on your feet and direct people where to go.
- Finish Line – This can be a busy place to help. I have had to remove timing chips from shoes, which is more difficult that you think – all the bending over. Another rewarding finish line duty is handing out finisher medals. *The day after the Lucky Run, my quad was so sore from all the lunging.
- Course Marshal – This might be one of my favorite places to be on race day. You might have to work a busy intersection with cars, so you need to be alert. However, most positions also allow you to be a cheer station, so bring a cowbell, sign or noise maker if there is room at your stop. *I recently helped at a road crossing at the Let Me Run 5k, very inspirational!
- Aid Station – One of the more labor intensive positions and be prepared to get dirty/wet. This task usually requires handing liquid to runners. Someone fills cups, someone hands a cup to a person in motion, someone is cleaning up cups. Sometimes the liquid is a sticky electrolyte drink. Then you have duties where you need to stock food and have it available, cutting orange slices is also a sticky job. You also need to consider food safety with this too. I will say if you volunteer at a road event it will be more fast past than a trail or ultra event. *I recently helped at the local marathon in my community. I was on a microphone greeting runners to our stop, I was also keep the pickle juice cups full. It was a lot of fun as we were a later mile marker in the race.
- Behind the scenes – small local races are usually organized by a committee of volunteers. It doesn’t hurt to ask if they need help planning or marketing the event. *As you know I am very involved in my local running club, I am able to post on their social media, plan 7 races or join training runs.
I have just one request if you choose to never volunteer. Please be kind. A volunteer has given up their time for you. Race day has a lot of logistics and a volunteer is just facilitating the transactions to make things go as smooth as possible. Please don’t yell at them and threaten to drive them over at a busy intersection. *I note this from personal experience. Small towns have more than one road, be patient, go around or park your car and help encourage the runners. Many of these races are supporting causes and charities in your community.
My next race is in Madison, WI for the Run Madtown weekend of events, if you can help volunteer please check out the link – http://runmadtown.com/volunteer/. They are also planning for some fun too. The Saturday evening events are glow themed and the Sunday half marathon is USA themed.
Fun Fact – Run Madtown will provide financial support to those in the community who support our events. They tally the hours at the end of the event and send the organization you volunteered on behalf of one check. How cool is that!!!! Get paid to volunteer.
I have written about volunteering before, but I feel it’s important to continue spreading the word. Hope to see you on race day and tell you thank you!