Sunday, September 20, 2009

Giving Back

Not competing in this year's army run gave me an opportunity to experience the event from another point of view: that of a volunteer. Life as a volunteer at a race is quite different. While I did have to wakeup even earlier than if I was racing (shift started at 6:30am), I did sleep much better without the excitement/anxiety of an upcoming race.

My day started with a short run (~3.5km) to the bus stop, since local buses don't run on weekends where I live, especially that early on Sundays. I got to the bus stop just in time for the first bus of the day. Woohoo.

When I got to the site, I was surprised to see so many volunteers out there already. The sweat check was run by the same person who runs the sweat check for the Ottawa race weekend, a much bigger event, so we knew we were in good hands. The volunteer crew consisted mostly of high school students earning their community credits under the Ontario school system. Some were really productive and engaged, while some other were clearly there just to get easy credits. One of the kid there was really impressive always getting bags before even being asked and moving so quickly nobody could keep track of him. Good job! Another young girl was interested in studying kinesiology and thought the event was really good to get closer to her interests.
Our tent was pretty big and divided into two areas, one for the 5km where I worked in the first half of the shift and another one for the half marathon where everyone worked to retrieve bags after the 5k was all done since there were so many of them:
The numbering system worked well enough even if it wasn't always perfect. To my knowledge we didn't lose a bag and the most it took us to locate one must have been about a minute with an average time of under 15 seconds.

Experiencing the event from this perspective was awesome. It felt almost as good as competing. Seeing all those runners happy and beaming from their performance or consoling the ones that didn't do as well as they wanted was quite an experience. I don't think I ever met so many runners in a day. I met colleagues (current and former), friends, family of friends, even the guy that sold me my last pair of shoes. Some of the girls working beside me thought I knew everyone until I pointed out that I was simply reading their names from their bib :)

Thanks to all the athletes that were nice and thankful for our work and congratulations to everyone for their amazing performances!


  1. Good for you! It gives you a great feeling doesn't it....sorry I missed you (again),

    cheers and we will catch up one of these days...

  2. I have to volunteer again soon. I used to volunteer alot when I first started running, but haven't in awhile. Sounds like yours was a great experience. Volunteers ROCK!

  3. I had the opportunity to volunteer at a du/tri last year, and it was definitely great to give back! Without the tireless work of volunteers, none of these events would run as great as they do!! I saw that Rick Ball broke the World Record for the HM by an amputee with an outstanding 1:20:xx! Incredible!

  4. I love volunteering! It's fun and rewarding to work on the 'other' side. Glad you enjoyed it today!

  5. Always love hearing when people give back to the sport. Funny thing though was that I didn't understand what you meant by sweat check. I initially thought it had something to do with measuring salt content or amount of sweat from the athletes!