As I stood at the starting line behind the plethora of people chasing their dreams, pushing through boundaries and capturing a little bit of magic at the Baltimore Marathon in 2008, I noticed that no matter how much I edged backward, one gentleman would always take a step back. I finally approached him and told him he had to go first. He initially refused as he wanted to be the last person across the starting line (for what reason I do not know.) When I explained to him that I, in fact, had to be that last person to start, in order to fulfill my duties for the day, he seemed unmoved. Finally a race official had to verbally nudge him forward. Five seconds later, I passed him. I do not think I will have that same problem in San Francisco.
Why exactly do I need to be dead last? Because every single one of those wonderful people in front of me is a running or walking dollar sign. Not for me, mind you, but for the all of those whom make races possible: volunteers. I recently wrote an article about how Volunteers are the unsung heroes of our wonderful sport. This is why I have chosen to raise money for Committed 2 Community which raises money for the organizations that do so much for the SF Marathon year after year – the volunteer groups. In the Charity Chaser Challenge, money will be raised for every runner I pass for Committed 2 Community. Funds will go toward grants to various local charities affiliated with The San Francisco Marathon.
Whether it has been running 52 consecutive weekly marathons in 2006, running the Boston Marathon twice in the same day in 2008 or trekking all 202 miles of the American Odyssey Relay all by myself in 2010, one thing which has been clear to me is how if it weren’t for those who give up their mornings handing out water, setting up aid stations and working harder than most of who race, than there would be no races for us to run. This need for volunteers becomes even clearer as I venture into multi-sport events and adventure racing across the globe.
Besides smiling and cheering me on if I am fortunate enough to pass you on Marathon Sunday, take a second to say thank you to the person handing you water. Pause to tell the officer holding up traffic you appreciate her time. High-five a little kid who has woken up early to cheer you on. The future of the sport lies in those who are not running it this very moment. As tough as the marathon is, we have the easy part.
Guest Blogger Dane Rauschenberg is an extreme athlete and author currently living in Salt Lake City, UT. With over 130 marathons under his belt, including 64 Boston-Qualifying Race times, Dane made the San Francisco Marathon his 36th marathon of the year back in 2006. He’s returning to The San Francisco Marathon to battle Sam Felsenfeld in the Charity Chaser Challenge. Both men will compete to raise the most money for their causes by starting in the back of the pack and racing to pass the most runners possible.