After my blog post last week on what makes a good Race Director, my daughter suggested I write another post on volunteering at races. So – without further ado – here it is.
Race volunteers are critical. There are very few races that could actually be run without race volunteers and most of those are fat a$$ races or informal races. Race volunteers come in all shapes and sizes. Some are paid volunteers, some are paid volunteers (ie police blocking roads, police escorts, medical personnel), and some just get roped in along the way.
I started racing in 2004 and started volunteering in 2005. Some of the volunteer work is fun, some of it is inspiring, some of it is exhausting and some of it is disgusting – but it is all worthwhile. In fact, I wish it was a requirement that for every x number of races you participate in, you have to do y hours of volunteer work with races. I really applaud some of the trail races like Wasatch 100 where the participants have to do volunteer work on trails. Not only do they give back to the community, they have a better appreciation of the hard work that goes into creating and maintaining trails.
Some of the different volunteering duties I have done over the years include:
- Stuffing race bags
- Packet pickup
- Manning a turn or turnaround to provide directions
- Marking a course
- Pickup up after a race
- Handing out water and other drinks at an aid station
- Cutting up and preparing food at an aid station
- Cheering on runners along a course
- Checking runners in/out of an aid station
- Loading vehicles with drop bags
- Laying out drop bags at an aid station
- Running an aid station
- Training volunteers
- Sweeping a race (i.e. – being the last runner)
- Pacing a race (i.e. –keeping runners on a set time limit for finishing)
- Bus check-in
- Racer check-in
- Driving supplies around a course
- Driving runners from the finish on a course to the start
- Garbage detail (nothing better than a jeep full of overflowing bags with oozing chocolate milk and other suspicious liquids)
- Manning an all night aid station (ok – being surrounded by lots of big scary buffalo in the middle of nowhere was pretty terrifying)
- Portable toilet detail (must admit this was worse than garbage detail – a memory I will never forget)
- Starting a race/pre-race instructions
- Racer motivation
- Anything else asked of me
As you can see – there are lots of opportunities. Still more for me to try and that is part of the fun.
Bonus points: Some Race Directors are kind enough to provide race entries and/or discounts for volunteering at their races.
Pacer bonus points: Free race entry into a race that you can do as a long run.
What are you waiting for? Get out there and volunteer!