Every race has them. Every race need them. They brave the elements. They smile, clap and cheer. They keep us hydrated. Hand out our goody bags. They are there, when our races go wrong or get injured.
Who am I talking about?
It’s simple – volunteers.
These wonderful people are the vital cogs that make running events tick over, without them, the race machine just would not work and I for one, believe they make the race you’re in, that little bit more special.
Some people take the men, women and children for granted while they race. Yes, I know it’s easy to get caught up in a race and to put your game face on, zoning into the competition for that PB or medal but even a nod or wave will do to say thanks!
No matter how serious the race gets, I always make sure that I say my please and thank you’s (it was how I was brought up), when I pass them – they deserve this. After all, they have given up their free time to make sure we’re okay and encourage us around the course.
The Parkrun is a great example to use here as, to date, over 235,000 wonderful folk donate their Saturday mornings to help marshal, organise, time keep and collect tags around the world, which is a fantastic statistic, one which will continue to rise.
You have to respect that, standing on their feet for hours on end, cheering and showing incredible amounts of energy as they wait for the last of the runners to come by, I’ve even known them to run by them if they are struggling.
I’ve had the pleasure of marshalling and positioned at water stations during my time as a runner, with the most recent being stationed at the final stretch of the incredibly popular South Shields 10 Mile Race. There I was, encouraging, clapping, pointing runners in the right direction, with NO regret – the same when I was providing water for the Great North Runners with South Shields Harriers.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking, when you get asked or see an opportunity, “oh, I really can’t be bothered to do that”, “it sounds interesting, but I don’t know if I’d like it” or my favourite, “I don’t have time!” – make time, you won’t know until you try it!
If you haven’t tried it, I recommend that you do. If you’re looking for financial gain, look elsewhere, it’s not about money but experience and help helping an event out, there’s ALWAYS room for volunteers! It doesn’t have to be at a running event, it can be at a concert, a track and field meeting, anywhere that they need them, just ask!
If you are lucky, though, some events do reward their volunteers, such as a packed lunch, event t-shirts/jackets and on some occasion’s tickets for events, to say thank you.
As we have entered 2017, that can only mean one thing – more races!
So, especially up here, the likes of the Events of The North – Sunderland 10km/HM, Kielder Races, and Durham City Races to name events, are looking for keen volunteers to get involved with helping making their races the best they can possibly be!
So and here is where I’m asking a favour, if you want to get involved and are 16+, drop an email via email@example.com
Like I mentioned, there are incentives, there is a packed lunch provided AND an event jacket for you to keep, also, plus, you get to experience a wonderful event!
All that is left to say is, to ALL the volunteers out there, THANK YOU!