As you’re planning your 2019 race schedule, consider setting aside a weekend or two to give back to the community that gives so much to you, and volunteer at a local running race or triathlon. While it may be hard to justify giving up weekend hours to not work towards that PR or goal, you actually will be making a bigger difference than you may realize.
Local race directors need all the help they can get at their races to ensure it runs smoothly, and they have given us 9 reasons why volunteers are an essential part of the day.
Running is a team sport
Whether you have been in the local endurance community for a few weeks or several years, chances are you’ve participated in a race that relied on its volunteers. It’s only fair to do your part, and help your fellow athletes out.
“Great volunteers make for great races. You can’t have one without the other,” says Bob Richards, Elmhurst Running Club 4 on the 4th.
Get involved in a new way
From working an aid station to handing out medals at the finish line to helping with set-up and take-down, volunteering is a great way to see the sport from a new perspective.
“Often, volunteers are runners who are injured and decide to give back and still be a part of their favorite events,” Beth Salinger, Fort2Base.
Appreciate what goes into it …
A race requires more than just athletes to show up on the day of; it takes months of planning and logistics, often times hundreds of workers and volunteers, and a lot of things to go right in order for race day to be what everyone signed up for.
“Volunteering provides runners with a behind-the-scenes look into some of their favorite races, which then provides a greater appreciation for the work that goes into producing a running event,” Greg Hipp, CARA.
… and take a load off the big guy.
For volunteers, race day is their one day of work, but for the race director, it’s their last. Help ease their weeks of stress by taking care of little jobs so they can focus on the big ones.
“Our volunteers do everything from serving water along the route, to monitoring the race and everything in between. We also rely on assistance from our local village, Melrose Park’s assistance is very important. Without our volunteers this event would not be a success,” Joe Ciconte, Spartan 5K
Meet more athletes
After doing race after race, you end up recognizing people who are in your similar corral or pace group. By volunteering, you can see everyone’s journey unfold, and talk to others you may have never interacted with otherwise.
“When you volunteer you become part of the athlete’s journey in achieving their goal of finishing the race,” Matt Kidd, Lake in the Hills Triathlon.
Get inspired …
Races are always inspiring environments because people are overcoming fears and reaching goals. As a volunteer, you can take it all in more broadly, rather than focusing on your own performance.
“Even if you’re not a runner, seeing the participants strive to reach a goal will inspire you to tackle a goal of your own,” Zach Edmonson, F^3 Lake Half Marathon & 5K
… and be an inspiration
You never know how far a smile or cheer can go when someone may be struggling.
“Remember that time someone told you that you were almost there…and actually meant it? Come be that person! Other athletes know exactly what race participants need to hear.” Zach Edmonson, F^3 Lake Half Marathon & 5K
You WILL make a difference.
A few hours goes a long way, and you’ll feel good about yourself after.
“Even though money is needed and a great way to contribute … giving of one’s time is invaluable!” Julie Pearson, Race Time Inc.
It actually is fun!
By simply showing up and helping out, you can enjoy the atmosphere you’ve grown to love, but without the stresses of your own race day, and be more relaxed.
“It’s an experience every runner should have. Try it, you’ll like it,” Bob Richards, Elmhurst Running Club 4 on the 4th.