Sunday, September 22, 2013

Volunteering at the Rochester Marathon

Big bucket of medals.
I spent most of this morning sorting and handing out medals at the Rochester Marathon.

Seeing the faces of everyone crossing the finish line -- those I knew and those I didn't -- was a wonderful experience. I hope to find more volunteer opportunities in the future.

I hadn't wanted to race this event this year, instead I'm planning on the Wine Glass full in **gulp** two weeks. But two weeks ago on Facebook Yellow Jacket Racing put out a desperate plea for volunteers.

Close to home. I know people running. Why not? I contacted them, and said they could put me where they needed me, happy to give back to the running community. But please, fingers crossed, not road marshal. Standing at an intersection for five hours with a flag did not sound like fun.

Ok, the volunteer organizer wrote back, how about the finish line?


I arrived at about 9, just in time to see my friends doing the half start to finish. I was put on full marathon medal duty, and started pulling the medals from a giant bucket, unraveling them and sorting them into piles that would be easy to grab when the masses started coming through.

The finish line volunteers were a lively bunch, and in between chatting with them and trying to spot those I knew, the time flew. The winner of the full marathon came through in 2:20-something. A 5:20 pace, and, I think I heard, a course record. Unreal.

I started handing out medals when the bulk of the marathoners started coming through, around the 3:30 mark. People came through smiling, showboating, ready to fall over, falling over, puking and crying. 

Some parents either carried their kids, or let them run beside them, to the finish. Volunteers handed the medals to the kids to hand to the parents. One kid came running through with his father. A volunteer gave the kid a medal, then lifted him up so he could put it on his dad. 

Several couples passed, holding hands on the way in. There were a ton of relay teams. The members running earlier legs met the finisher and they all ran in together. 

I somehow missed one former colleague at the 4:30 mark, but not too far after came Allison finishing her first full in 4:36! She was smiling, but exhausted, and gave me a big hug.

Later came Todd, who decided to do the race at the relative last-minute and finished strong. He struck a pose on the way in, then greeted his family.

While it wasn't, well, running a marathon, this renewed my appreciation for the volunteers at big races! Holding onto an armful of medals for hours on end gets heavy. Can't wait to get my bulky one at the Wine Glass!

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