Before you judge me, hear me out.

 If you talk to me during the months leading up to a race where I am working as the Director of Volunteers, I will likely say to you I don’t love the volunteer aspect of a race. I do not like asking people for help. I do not like harassing people to give up their time freely. Time is something that all of us have very little of.

At times I feel like moms and dads have it the worst. Little people to take care of, houses to clean, jobs to work at, sport practices to watch, all the while trying to still find time for themselves. At Hood To Coast I was amazed hearing what Sweaty Emily did when she was first out of college. Working a zillion jobs, getting little to no sleep each night, still running and still teaching. It really woke me up to the fact that NO one has FREE time. There are always things we can do, want to do, need to do and this is not something unique to just parents.

This is my second race working as Director of Volunteers, my first was National Marathon, where I had to recruit 1,000 volunteers. I figured a 5K would be easier to recruit people for, turns out it’s harder. I told myself this was the last time I wanted to work in this type of position. I love the different behind the scenes aspect of races, almost as much as I love running them. But I tend to think I don’t love volunteers.

Yesterday reminded me why I have some of the best friends in the world. Why I love Volunteers and why I love working behind the scenes of races.

Yesterday night three ladies worked packet pick up for me. One was a dear friend, one was the friend of a dear friend, and one was a reader of my blog – who I sincerely hope my life path crosses again because I’d love for her to be a friend. Then there were the behind the scenes friends – one who watch both of my sons for me for hours while I was working packet pick up[she also has 2 kids of her own], and the other who watched my other friends 3 kids at home plus her own so my friend could volunteer. [did you catch all that?]

When I was thanking them for volunteering last night – my friend asked me if I was about to cry – I said no. Truth was that I wasn’t about to cry but I had a frog in my throat thinking about how grateful I was and how a thank you just never seems like enough.

I feel alone, more often than not. I cry to myself about how I have no friends and how I miss the friends that I do have because they are either busy with their own lives or live far away. Yesterday reminded me that I need to stop focusing on what I don’t have and realize I already have what I want. I have GREAT friends. Sure we have our ups and downs – most relationships do. But in the end – I know when I need these girls in a pinch – they are there for me.every.single.time.

I love volunteers. Yes there are other races aspects that I may love, and I may enjoy them more at times. BUT NOTHING beats the awesome feeling inside I get when someone freely gives their time to directly help me. Every single volunteer at this race is helping me. They are helping me fulfill my job of making the race run smoothly for the runners and kids.

If you run this weekend – thank a volunteer. It doesn’t matter what race it is – those people are doing jobs that are often thankless and only get a t-shirt in return. They pay their own way to get to an event – to help you.

I have found that RUNNERS are usually the last people who volunteer at races. I have even been told rather rudely that *I’m a runner, I’m not here to volunteer* – well guess what – I run – I volunteer and I have awesome awesome friends who are runners and they volunteer too. Be thankful for all the behind the scenes work that goes into races.

When you do race recaps, instead of bashing races or people for what they didn’t do right – focus on what they did do.

A sincere thank you to the all the volunteers yesterday who came out to the YMCA to help me! I look forward to meeting more of you today and tomorrow.

I guess I do LOVE volunteers after all.

If you are free this weekend and would like to join me and some other FANTASTIC people – click this link to see many jobs that still are open for the Great Pumpkin 5K and kids dash.

Comments

  1. thisgirlcanrun says:

    I am actually running this 5K!

    The department at my work were actually volunteers last year at this event, but this year it didn't happen because there ended up being some sort of issue as far as sponsors go…I don't want to go into detail…sorry if it sounds vague.

    I feel bad reading your post because it would have been about 10 more volunteers than you have now if everything had worked out properly.

    One of my co-workers decided to run the race this weekend anyway, since she had so much fun last year, and dragged me in at the last second to run it with her.

    Good luck to finding more people! It's hard to get someone to volunteer if they don't think they have a direct interest in it!!!

  2. Kyria @ Travel Spot says:

    I think volunteers are the best! In fact, as a runner, anyone who comes out to watch a bunch of (boring) people run by them is MY HERO. I thank everyone at the water stops. I know it's probably not enough, but I do my best! I hope to volunteer in the future!

    Thanks to you and your crew! You guys rock!

  3. thethinksicanthink says:

    I hope you got all the volunteers you needed and more! I think all runners should HAVE to volunteer at one race at some point — it made me appreciate all that the volunteers do so much more. Its also pretty fun to cheer!

  4. Carla @ I Run, You Run says:

    Hi, my friend organizes this meetup group: http://www.meetup.com/Singles-In-The-Suburbs/ — have you tried emailing them and asking to post for volunteers (might be too late now). It's a huge group, and though not running related, most people are from the Reston area and might be interested in an opportunity like that, so it wouldn't be too far off for them. Good luck!

  5. misszippy says:

    As someone who does a fair amount of volunteer recruiting for races up here in Howard County, I get it! Volunteers are the heart of a race and it's so important that we thank them (whenever we have the breath to do so!). Good luck with your race this weekend.

  6. I've always thanked volunteers because even if things go wrong it's most likely NOT their fault! Vancouver marathon ran out of GU and cups this past spring and I know that's just bad organization.

    When I volunteered at a half in February it was kind of weird. I'd get thanked and not quite know how to respond since I signed up to do it so I was just doing my job. I appreciated the sentiment though because I was on bag check and once it came close to race start we were just having stuff thrown at us. It was nice that people took the extra few seconds to say thanks.

  7. Karen the "Hungry Mom" says:

    It was fun to volunteer! It was a great way to give back to the running community while simultaneously hanging out with friends! Praying all goes smoothly on Saturday!

  8. {lifeasa}RunningMom says:

    Yes, volunteers are a love/hate relationship. It is so hard to organize them but it is so beneficial to have their assistance. I have worked so much with volunteers and completely understand.

  9. Jennifer Fyfe says:

    Think before you judge, Ms. Beal. This is a busy time for people.

  10. Suz and Allan says:

    I hope you get all the volunteers you need! If I were close by (Alabama is a little far) I would volunteer to help. This will definitely remind me to be sure to thank all the volunteers at the race I run tomorrow. Have a great weekend!

  11. mickiruns says:

    Girl you know I'd be there if I wasn't so darn far away!!

  12. Wish my whole family could come help out. Unfortunately we have a family / church event conflict…sorry!

  13. Tim Speros says:

    Great Post! You should put up a poll on your blog asking why people volunteer? I am interested to see the different reasons people chose to volunteer.

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