Why Volunteering At Races Makes You More Grateful
By Christine O’Connell. Christine is a 2019 Biofreeze San Francisco Marathon Ambassador, lover of all things Disney and Christmas. You can learn more from her on Instagram at ChristineHasTheRuns
Always a runner, never a volunteer. That was the case for me until I had three weeks of back to back racing and while I thought about signing up to run the next local race, I decided it was best to recover. Still wanting to join in on the excitement of race weekend, I thought of the next best thing: to volunteer. There is so much behind the scenes work that goes into organizing a race. From volunteering at the expo all the way through to race morning, I came to appreciate all volunteers that have ever handed me water or fuel, answered any questions I had, or simply just gave me a smile and said “way to go” along the course. During races, I try to make a conscious effort to say “thank you” whenever possible but sometimes fatigue sets in on races and that is not something I always do as my energy declines. After volunteering for the first time, I now will say “thank you” to volunteers no matter what my state during races and definitely am going to volunteer at future running events.
If you are a past volunteer or are thinking about volunteering in the future, I highly recommend it. Here are some awesome reasons to help influence your decision:
- Meeting really cool people you might have never otherwise met (I met a lovely runner who was going to be racing for her 10th year straight – I was so fascinated by her perseverance and dedication.)
- Learning about other vendors at the expo (this is where I fell in love with Gu energy gels – I was able to sample all of the fun flavors without having to purchase full packages to see what I liked!)
- Picking up some free samples and/or swag (I have so much swag from expos – socks, sunglasses, tote bags – you name it)
- Free volunteer shirt!
- Seeing friends along the course (I knew some people were running but was actually amazed at how many other people I saw while cheering that didn’t know were running so it was a pleasant surprise to cheer them on as well.)
- Relief to runners knowing that you are there to support them (since running is as much a mental sport as it is a physical sport, it definitely helps when you see a friend who needs that last bit of energy to power to the end of the race)
- Understanding what goes on before, during, and after races (all the behind the scenes work really made me respect the race that much more)
- Sometimes volunteering for a race/organization will get you free entry into a future race.
No matter what, please thank volunteers over and over and over again! They can never be thanked enough, and they are working just as hard as the runners are during a race.