I had the opportunity to work for a race management company for two years and loved the experience. I was in charge of doing social media and marketing aspects for the race but by working for the company, I know how important race volunteers are to making the race happen.
Without volunteers, there is no way a race would be able to take place. They are literally the heart and soul, as most management companies are actually just a small group of people doing the day-to-day work. Come race weekend, volunteers make it all come together. I have also volunteered at a few different races and always find it super rewarding. It’s important for runners to give back and be on the other side of things to see how races are put on and how much work it is. It really opens your eyes to be grateful for everything that goes into a race, from ordering medals, to sending out e-mails with event information, to passing out bib numbers or working a water station.
Just like the participants, the volunteers get up early! They spend the morning hours being trained on their job and sometimes stand out on the course for many hours making the race experience special for each and every runner. They give their time and energy for everyone out there, and it’s so important to remember how much they are giving up to make sure you have a great race experience. When I have volunteered, my favorite thing to do is giving out bib numbers because of all the pre-race excitement that the participants have.
One of my favorite things to do when I am running a race is going through a water station and telling the volunteers, “thank you so much!” Even if I’m running through the station, I always say thank you and try to look them in the eye. I really think it makes a big difference to them and hearing them saying you’re welcome, or no thank you for running encourages me back. I especially love the younger kids volunteering along the course. They are always smiling and having fun and I love giving them high fives and making sure they know how important they are to the race.
Another special part of the race is the spectators and every time I spectate a race, I make sure to cheer for everyone instead of just the person I’m there to support. I feel like if you’re already out there cheering on someone, cheer for everyone because it makes it much more fun and really encourages the runners to keep going when you yell their name or tell them they look great.
For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.