Sunday, November 3, 2013

Volunteer Report - Raleigh City Of Oaks 2013

My morning started very early, but thankfully Daylights Savings Time meant it started an hour later than my body thought it was.  Today was the Raleigh City Of Oaks Marathon and Half Marathon!  Last year, this was my first ever half marathon and I have fond memories of the cheerful volunteers encouraging me to keep going when I was oh-so-tired.  So this year, I decided to be a cheerful volunteer!

I arrived at my intersection at 6am.  In retrospect, I am not sure why they asked us to be there so early.  A police officer did not come by to clear the course (as we were told) and the road did not officially close until 7:30am.  I sat in my car inflating balloons until 7:30 and made a big poof for my back and two pom-poms for my wrists.
I wanted to do something fun that would make people smile as they ran by.  It's kind of the RunDisney spirit in me, I guess.  Part of what makes Disney runs so fun is the DISTRACTION of bright and colorful characters.  So, that's me today - a bright and colorful character!

The race started at 7am and I was located at the intersection of Brooks and Kilgore at mile 9.3.  The first super-fast runner came by at 7:48am, running what had to be 5 minute miles.  He did not smile or enjoy my cheers outwardly, but I'm sure all his energy was being spent moving forward more quickly than I ever will be able to.  About a minute later, the second guy came by, then about 10 more before the first woman came through.

I noticed something about these fast runners... they really aren't smilers.  I didn't have too many smiles or happy faces until the 9 minute mile folks came along.  Then it was non-stop smiling and high fives until the 12 minute mile people were all through.  By the 13 minute pace, most people were unhappy again - many struggling to just finish the race.  Those are my people, so I know how they feel.  However, I hope I smiled more at the volunteers when I was slow and tired.  I will definitely make a point to do so going forward.

The clearing pace police cars came up behind a small group of walkers and I was told to clear the intersection.  There were a few people walking with bibs behind the police cars on the sidewalks and I cheered for them as I packed up my stuff and de-ballooned myself.

I learned a lot being a race volunteer today.  First, I really am inspired by the happy, middle-of-the-pack people.  They really seemed to be enjoying running and were so pleasant.  Many thanked me for volunteering and several stopped to take their picture with me - which I thought was so fun.  I want to be those people - faster, yes... but HAPPY and ENJOYING RUNNING.  That was a really cool thing to see.  Second, I am so proud of those who kept moving forward when they were getting passed and when the pace car was nipping at their heels (and even passing them).  Maybe they didn't have a lot of smiles to give, but they were working just as hard as that unsmiling first guy and probably using their energy just the same as he was - to keep going as fast as they could toward the finish line.

I will definitely volunteer again!  Not only did I have a great time, but check out this sweet swag:

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