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Race Volunteering: Giving Something Back

Posted on May 21 2009

A few weeks ago, one of the heads of my local running club sent out a request for volunteers to help out with a local 5k race. This isn’t just any race – it’s the biggest road race annually in NH (~6000 runners), and it happens to take place in my hometown of Concord. It also has the reputation of being one of the funnest (is that a word?) races around, with great food and music at the finish line. Last year, I ran the race all out, set a 5k PR, and had an all-around great time. However, the race took place just 4 days before I ran the Vermont City Marathon, and I think that fatigue from the 5k may have lingered into marathon day. I was determined to avoid this mistake this time around, and volunteering to help with the race seemed to be a good way to participate, yet to force myself to not actually run it.

The purpose of this post is not so much to talk about my marathon preparation (only 4 days to go!), but rather to put in a plug for race volunteering. I had a great time today manning the same-day registration booth, and the rush of people during the final hour before the start time was intense. By the time the gun went off, I felt as exhausted as if I had just run the race myself, but was thrilled that I was able to give back to my local running community. It’s a great group of people, and I’m glad that I could help in this small way. Having seen race organization now from the other side of the table, I can appreciate a bit of what goes into making one of these things go off smoothly, and race organizers deserve a ton of credit. So, if you ever have the chance to help out at a race – do it – you’ll be glad that you did. Your local running club is one good way to hook up with race directors, or just contact the race directors listed for local races in the the Cool Running.com race schedule – your help is needed and will be much appreciated.

One final note about my experience today. Once the registration crowd died down, I was able to plant myself near the finish line and watch all of the runners come through. This was the first time I actually watched an entire finish from the sidelines, and it was an inspirational experience. Watching runner’s of all types pass by made me really appreciate the sport, and watching the little kids cheer on their parents (and some grandparents) brought a smile to my face. Although it killed me not to be out on the road running the race, simply watching the finish probably did more to motivate me going into the marathon on Sunday than actually running could have. Congrats to all the runners who sweated it out!

Happy running!

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