As most of you know, I run quite a bit, and do quite a few races too. I’m always appreciative of volunteers, and I kept planning to volunteer sometime, but it never seemed to work out. Most races are on Saturdays, which are when I’m typically either race or (more likely) doing my long run. ‘
I’d had my eye on the local Red Rock Twilight Half Marathon and 5.4-Mile Ascent for a few months, but seeing as North Coast 24 was just the week prior, I wasn’t sure about it. As it turned out, I feel fine, but thought it’d be risky to race, so I decided this was finally my chance to volunteer.
I emailed the RD, Joyce, a couple days ago. Joyce runs Calico Racing, which is the most awesome race org I’m aware of; she puts on races about every month or so here in the Las Vegas area, and they all have at least 2 distance options, sometimes with as many six (Labor of Love in April – 10k, HM, marathon, 50k, 50M, and 100M). She sent me a detailed “agenda” for the race and put me down for 4.5 hours. Cool…
I showed up at 8pm Saturday evening. She immediately handed me a reflective vest, a blue light (like a light saber), and told me I’d be directing runners at the most critical point in the course. On the first lap, all runners loop back toward the start line, but on the second lap, they’re directed out in a different direction. The course is point-to-point with a small loop at the beginning. It got a little complicated because the faster people were lapping the slower people, so it was difficult to tell which loop people were on. While I waited for the race to start, I was really energetic, so I ran back and forth for about 20 minutes; Red Rock is beautiful, especially as the sun is going down. And no, I wasn’t wearing running clothes, but I had running shoes and a sports bra, so that’s all that really matters (it was surprisingly easy to run in jeans). After the last runner passed by, I ran the loop backward to ensure I didn’t miss anyone.
Then I helped Joyce load some stuff into a huge truck before going around picking up glow sticks and all of the course markers on the loop.
When I met Joyce at the finish line, I unloaded all of the course marker signs and reported for my next duty. I initially was the chip clipper person. I gained a whole new appreciation for that job. And based on my experience, I will NEVER again pull the zip ties so tight on my chip as those are infinitely more difficult to cut than ones that are looser.
I only cut chips for a few minutes before Joyce said she needed something else. I went over and helped arrange all of the drop bags on tarps in alphabetical order.
Then I unpacked all of the overall and age group awards for both races. They were neat little stones with holes in the center, each with a little tea candle. I absolutely love the unique awards Joyce comes up with for every one of her races. Trying to read all of the wording on the fronts of the awards made me realize I should have brought a light (even though it was nearly a full moon and very bright outside as a result of that). Luckily, someone lent me one. I arranged the awards on the table just in time for Joyce to make the preliminary awards presentations; she called names and I gave out awards, which was fun for me.
Then, I went back over to the finish line and cut more chips off of shoes. This is difficult to do, particularly at night. I was surprised with the number of people who laced their chips to their shoes instead of using the ties–this ALMOST resulted in some clipped shoe laces. It was enjoyable to be at the finish line seeming people so happy to finish. The course is NOT easy; it’s uphill for the entire first half–I’m familiar with the course because it’s essentially half of the out-and-back Red Rock Marathon course which I ran in March.
With 45 minutes to go (3 hours and 15 minutes elapsed in the half marathon), the person handing out medals and the person manually recording times left as their time was up. This meant I absorbed both of their jobs, which proved to be quite cumbersome. Noting the time each person crosses the mat and their bib number, then clipping their chip off and handing them a medal takes some juggling (literally–clipboard, pen, clipper, light, and medals). Luckily, there weren’t very many people coming in during this period. Being right there when people finished a difficult race, particularly those who were doing their first half marathon, was very neat. I was so happy for everyone and whoever was at the finish line made it a point to cheer for EVERY runner who came in.
At midnight, the end of my shift, Joyce thanked me and told me to please come back and volunteer at whatever races I don’t run. She said she had been excited when she saw my email asking about volunteering because she said she remembered how even my splits at the end of my 12-hour race were a few weeks ago and if I was organized enough to do that, then she knew she could count on me as a volunteer. I’m not really sure about that logic, but I’m glad she trusted me to be so involved in so many elements of the race.
Since the last bus taking people back to their cars would not depart for a while longer after my shift, I took three runners back to their cars. We had some fun conversation for the 20-minute car ride. I love runners, really.
In summary, I had an AWESOME experience, and I will definitely be volunteering at other races in the future.
And as an added perk, it turns out I earned $45 in credit to put toward a future Calico Race. Way cool.
(Sorry there are no pics. I wish I would have brought a camera, but at the same time, I don’t know when I would have had time to take any photos!)