I volunteered my first event this past Sunday, the inaugural Ann Arbor Marathon.I was a course marshal stationed at the entrance of a one and a half mile loop.
It was mile 8.5 entering and mile 10 exiting for the half marathon runners, and approximately mile 21 entering and mile 22.5 exiting for the marathon runners.
Where the half marathon runners came through like a stampede, the full runners were sparse and rarely grouped together.
The sun tried its best to poke through but the clouds held it back and there was a steady breeze throughout, despite that several runners commented on how hot they were.
The looks on some of the runners was surreal, you could clearly see the ones that were struggling. I clapped and cheered as best I could but anyone who has run a half or full marathon knows that at that point in the race, words don’t matter much but some do appreciate it.
A lot of the runners walked the aid station coming out, at that point they either had just under 4 miles to go for the full, or 3 miles to go for the half. A fact I reiterated to them as they started running again.
There were porta-potties at my station and several runners asked if they could use them. I said don’t ask, just go! They were used by runners going into the loop, as well as those exiting it.
One runner came up to me in agony and asked if I had any Vaseline. Surprisingly, I did! I brought my running backpack to my station to carry a few snacks and sure as heck it was in there.
She couldn’t thank me enough! Turns out her new tank top had ridges, which wore into her skin near her armpits, the poor thing.
All in all it was a great experience and I am glad I got to offer some encouragement to all the runners and walkers.
Several of them thanked me as they ran past, I thought that was really cool!
While there are many sore legs today, I am sure there are just as many dreams fulfilled and promises kept.
I will definitely make race volunteering a regular part of my life.
Thank you for reading.