On Sunday I was honored to be a part of the Houston Marathon! Not as a runner, but as a volunteer! As a *wanna be* runner I have always wanted to run a marathon. Every time I have trained something has gotten in the way of me finishing the race. Injuries and weather have not been my friends. I will run one, someday, but until then, I am happy with my smaller races and volunteering and cheering on my amazing runner friends!
I woke up at 4:30 and rolled out of bed. I got dressed and headed out. I stopped to get gas and then picked up my friend Lauran was as going not feeling well but was still going to attempt the marathon. We headed downtown in the dark of the early morning. We made it with no issues, and I dropped off Lauran close to the start line. I headed over to the area where I was going to volunteer by mile 20. It was a little confusing since they had closed off so many of the streets. I was thankfully able to talk some of the police officers to let me through the blockade to get to my post. I made it to where I was to be, parked and signed in. So far everything was pretty easy.
I met a few other volunteers and we got to work setting up trash cans and then the cups. Oh the thousands of cups! Overall the system was pretty good. Lay out a layer of cups, fill with water, lay down cardboard and make another layer of cups! We ended up making 3 layers of cups just for our table, which was probably close to 2000 cups! And we had 2 sections of Gatorade tables and 4 sections of water tables! It was a LOT of cups! I wish I had gotten a better picture of our table when it was all ready! It looked pretty amazing 😉
We had a little pow-wow and were shown how to hold the cups and the best place to stand for the runners.
It took a while to get everything ready and then all of a sudden the elite runners were on their way! It was really amazing to see them run! They are just SO fast!!! At our station just after mile 20 they clock was reading 1:38.00! I can run about 6-7 miles in the time they run 20!!! Blows my mind every time! They did not get fuel from us and I would not either if I was running that fast!
About 15-20 min later a few more runners started to trickle in. Most of them got fuel. It was neat to see how they drank out of the cups. Totally inspired me for my next race to try this form of pinching the top of the cup together and drinking out of the side. Maybe I am late to the party on this one, but I am so glad I now know!
I was very thankful for my ‘Race Crew’ jacket. It was chilly at first, and several runners accidentally knocked the cups onto me, but I stayed warm and dry with my jacket.
For the next several hours I was passing out water and cheering. I tried to call out as many names as possible to encourage the runners! It was so great to see their faces light up as they heard their names! I felt bad when I could not see the name or it was something I could not pronounce quick enough. The table in front of mine had several high school boys helping. After about 20 min of cheering and passing out one of the boys turned around and commented that I knew EVERYONE!!! Ha, nope, race bibs with names! LOL
That same group of boys happened to be a bit of an issue. They kept creeping out into the course to try and give away their water cup. They were also goofing off a bit and one of the kids was cursed out by a runner when he did not pay attention to what he was supposed to be doing. Sadly the lady who was in charge of the water tables did not seem to handle it very well and ended up screaming at the kids over and over 😦
After a while someone finally figured out that they need to be given a different role. After they changed roles the water table distribution seemed to go a lot better!
A few of the volunteers
When it was over the clean up went very fast! I was really impressed by that. All during the race a few of the volunteers continually were raking up the cups that were tossed to the side. Many of the runners tried to make it into the trash and even apologized when their cups fell to the ground. Not to worry fellow runners! You are working your butts off running a MARATHON! The least we can do it serve you water and pick up a few cups!
The garbage men came along and collected all the trash for us! There were still a few straggling runners coming through and I felt bad when we did not have any more water. I guess there had been some sort of delay at the start so some people were not where they thought they would be by 12:30pm.
Overall it was a really amazing experience. I def felt like I was working and helping people unlike my last race volunteer experience in December where I literally stood/sat for 4 hours and did nothing (cause the role I signed up for ended up not being needed).
(Side note: My friend was not able to finish the race. She was too sick. My heart still breaks for her as she worked so hard. I have full faith she will redeem herself soon!!)
I can not WAIT to volunteer again!! I would love to find at least a few more races to volunteer at this year! (And hopefully a triathlon!!)
Have YOU volunteered at a race? What was your experience?