Sunday, July 4, 2010

Firekracker 5K - Volunteer

Because I've run a fair number of 5K's recently, I've been trying to back off on them so I could run some more moderate-pace miles to work on my aerobic base. So, I had a choice to run today's Firekracker 5K, or next week's KRFC Radio Flyer 5K Race. I chose the latter because my spouse (Cele) is a volunteer for the KRFC radio station and will be working the water station at mile 2. Plus, the Firekracker is a fundraiser held by my running club (Fort Collins Running Club), and it's a good opportunity to volunteer at an event. Some people both volunteer AND run, but I just wanted to volunteer.

Initially, I was supposed to cut fruit, but before I could get started, I was given the job of standing guard at the barricades that were keeping vehicles from driving on the roads through City Park, Fort Collins, where the race start and finish were located. Apparently, some people had moved barricades at other park entrances so they could drive into the park or perhaps find better parking--who knows? I guess the big "Road Closed" signs on the barricades weren't clear enough.

In any case, I was posted as sort of a sentry at the entrance along the main drag, instructed to only allow vehicles of people working the race through the barricades. So, I let an ambulance in and a massage therapist that was working the event, and otherwise just stood around looking official and trying to answer questions as best I could. It was fun, and many runner's expressed their gratitude. Plus, I got a chance to offer some encouragement to every runner in the race as they passed by my position, at a little less than one mile from the start.

Having not been involved behind the scenes at a race, I wasn't sure what needed to be done, so when I arrived I had announced that I was ready to do whatever was asked of me. That seems to be the right attitude.

After the race, I stayed and helped the organizers clean up, sorting trash from recycling, and dispensing with any remaining food. Some remaining cups of yogurt were donated to the organizer of a race that will be held the following weekend, some went to the food pantry, and a little bit went to volunteers. The extra bagels and fruit peels were taken for composting, and the cups were all collected and bagged. After we got the tables and shelters torn down, a couple of the other volunteers thanked me for staying around to clean up. I had assumed that was just part of the deal, but apparently some volunteers only stick around for the fun stuff, then head for the hills when the unpleasantries begin.  

Being a race volunteer turned out to be a fun and rewarding experience. It was in support of my running club--my first official club function, actually. Next time, I'll try to commit earlier, so I'm not the extra guy they're stuck trying to find an assignment for.  

If you enjoy running in local events, I'd highly recommend that recreational runners consider helping out the volunteers that make it happen. What better way to show your gratitude for their efforts. I'll sure be making an extra effort to thank volunteers at all my races in the future.

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