Thursday, April 26, 2018

GUEST POST: Giving on the Run by Jenn

I love finding ways to give back and make a difference. It can be anything from donating to charities or volunteering at a soup kitchen to helping a friend move or picking up trash on a local trail. I truly believe we are blessed to be able to bless others, so want to do my best to share the wealth (not only money, but my time and talents). With that said, when Jenn mentioned she wanted to do a guest post about giving back to the running community I was STOKED! If you haven't considered volunteering at a local race before, hopefully her thoughts and experiences will change your mind!

Someone once told me there are two types of people in the world — lifters and leaners. I always strive to be a lifter and in running, there are several ways you can do that. One such way is to volunteer at a running event. As a runner who has participated in several races, I’ve always been aware of the volunteers. I always try to thank them for being out there, but I will admit, I’ve taken them for granted. I never put much thought into it till last year when I had the opportunity to volunteer.


My first race volunteer experience was at the San Diego Half Marathon Expo, handing out race bibs to 5K participants. I registered to volunteer for the event in the same way one signs up for a race. Once you pick the day you can volunteer, you were given time frames to choose from and different tasks you could volunteer for. Everything I needed to know was communicated via pre-volunteer day e-mails. I showed up about fifteen minutes before my shift, checked in, received my volunteer t-shirt and waited with other volunteers for directions. They were very thorough in explaining what we needed to do and prepared us for any questions that might arise (race day shuttle, start time, finish line logistics, etc).


I signed up for a four hour shift and it flew by! I had so much fun meeting all the runners, from those running their 100th 5K to those running their first. One of my favorite things about running has always been the community and this was one way to engage with fellow runners. I loved hearing all the stories and even saw some friends who were running the event.

Source@jmangilit's Instagram Feed

My second volunteer experience was on race day for the ERS Black Mountain Half Marathon. Like the San Diego Half experience, the pre-volunteer information was communicated via e-mail. This race was smaller, so we selected volunteer shift times, but not specific tasks. I showed up on race morning, ready for anything. After helping set up a couple booths, I was given the task of check-in/bib distribution. I like this station because you get to interact with almost all the runners.

Once the race started, I helped wherever extra hands were needed — from handing out medals to helping at the food table or picking up trash. One of my favorite parts about this volunteer experience was getting to see the first runners cross the finish line — I have never seen this during an event because I’m always running. It was great to be able to see the first and the last finishers come through. I loved that every runner was celebrated with such an amazing energy.


People often question why someone would volunteer when they’re not getting anything out of it, but I got so much out of my volunteering experiences. Some races offer registration discounts, race entries or other perks but what I got out of it was so much more than that. When you see what happens behind the scenes of races, you understand and have a greater appreciation for race events and how much work it truly can be. I also loved getting to meet all the people, from the other volunteers to the runners — everyone has a story to tell and you can learn so much from one another. 


Volunteering also made my love for running grow. It helped remind me how truly amazing our community is! Running has given me so much and I am grateful for the opportunity to give back, even if just for a few hours. 

I LOVE IT! If you've run with me at a race before then you've probably heard me thank my fair share of volunteers. But, like Jenn mentioned, often times we take them for granted and just assume they'll always be there. Well, one way to make sure volunteers will be on the course is to GET OUT THERE AND BECOME ONE! I've volunteered at a few events in the past, but this is just the kick in the pants I needed to find a local race, volunteer for a shift or two and give back NOW!

Have you every volunteered at a race?

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