Saturday, 25 July 2015

Voluntarily Yours

The Mission
Better half out of town for the weekend, and time's going to pass glacially without her? Volunteer at a race..
I was there to man a drink station, though first I helped erect a giant sausage. After that I helped deliver van keys back to the start line that one of the staff had taken with him by mistake. After I parked in front of a nice house to take up my position, an odd interlude with the owner who hoped I wouldn't mind if my car got wet due to him watering his lawn. He's a voiceover artist by profession. That's a true digression. 
Background & prep
I ran MEC race #5 last year with my Dad when he and Mum visited. It had been the scene of my 5k PB until I kicked that over earlier this month.  
I asked for the 5k turnaround station, which also tripled as the 2.5 and 7.5k points for the 10k. 
I poured drinks in preparation. Depending on your point of view, it looked either like a champagne reception or busy drug testing lab. 
The course followed the riverbank, on something of a false flat, the second half being slightly upward.
Hair needed combing, in hindsight. 
Lights, camera 
I set up the gopro on time lapse, taking a photo every half second. It was positioned to capture every single runner, with the 5k-ers turning around right in front of it. 
I joined Jorge and Aaron manning the station. Jorge brought very nice Chilean sandwiches with him for some pre-race volunteer carb loading. Gracias! 
We did some strutting before all the runners came through. A time lapse video would be following later. Everyone is funny at 14x speed. 
The leaders came piling through. 
None of them wanted water or Nuun. Simon pictured above gliding through. 
Canuck bloggers were also racing, here's CowGirlRuns. 
Brunch is served
Handing over a cup to a mobile person takes a little getting used to. Don't grip too tight or too loose, and try to move with the runner just a little. 
One or two took extended breaks, the guy sitting down in a bit of pain. It got too busy to remember what happened to him, but I think he walked back ok. 
5k leaders came barreling down, and I pointed out the turnaround. Role reversal from last year (minus the being in the lead bit). 
The leading lady, whom I recognized as having overtaken me in the past, was close behind. 
Through came Rich, breaking his promise not to bother with a 5k again. 
Raf of ShutUpLegs fame followed, I somehow missed him despite the highly visible attire. 
A few more of the quicker 5k-ers came through before...
...we were then dealing with both sets of runners. There were a few tough moments when the 3 of us couldn't grab cups fast enough. 
Mr Modest Motivator
Once it was only 10k-ers, all was good. I noticed how breaking into a grin would get a big return smile. Also, rather than those two words ("almost there!"), I stuck to the facts: "one quarter distance to go!"  
The owner of Tri-It Multisport, just over the road, stopped to chat briefly while on her long run. So too did others who were training. All about the grass roots.
A few minutes later came the race's DFL.  I think of that as an honourable title. She was managing her race well on a run/walk. 
Course bikes/ medics brought it all to a close. Then I helped take it all down and pack. 
It's less sweaty than a race, but it's certainly non-stop action in places and a lot of thinking on your feet. I've been a course marshal before, and have been very animated doing it. This though is a flurry of activity and a real mission to keep a race going. Give it a try. 

Here's that whole hour and 10 minutes crunched into 4 minutes:


  1. THIS is awesome!!!! Volunteering at a race is SO fun and these are good tips for people!!

  2. It can be so fun volunteering at races! People are awesome and you can see tons of runners that you know. Good times!

  3. Thanks Peter as always. Great commentary and pics.