VIP pass right there!
We are all set to volunteer for the Rochester Marathon in September (one week before our own marathon), but when Mike noticed that the Sehgahunda Marathon was in need of volunteers he asked if we could do it. I was hesitant at first because we had a 20 mile ride scheduled (we ended up switching our 20 and 15 mile rides) and I had to work from 4pm to 6pm. I went ahead and asked what time they needed volunteers and before we knew it we were assigned volunteer duties!
Mike and I were scheduled to work Checkpoint 4 with two other volunteers, another couple who just started running about a year ago too!
Our post for the day
See that yellow line? That's the elevation profile for the race!
It is important to note that this isn't a typical marathon, it is run entirely on trails! Each checkpoint was vital because it provided the runners an opportunity to grab whatever they needed, as well as, provide the volunteers/medics an opportunity to check the runners. I'm not entirely sure what the temperature was on Saturday but it was in the 80s and there was barely any wind!
When Mike and I got there, Karen and Rick (the other two volunteers) were already there. Shortly after Mark, from YellowJacket Racing or Fleet Feet Sports (not sure which), arrived to explain our duties. Our first runner's estimated arrival time wasn't until 9:45am so we had plenty of time to get ready.
Mike is ready to volunteer!
I loved Checkpoint 4!
We got to work preparing the water, Gatorade and various food items. Since this race felt like an Ultra to the runners we had energy gels, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, chips, pretzels, flat soda, Red Bull, watermelon, oranges and cookies. Mike did a great job cutting all of the fruit!
Make sure to cut those oranges in eighths!
Just some of what we had!
Preparing for the runners
Since there were four of us, Karen and I took care of the runners and Mike and Rick checked each runner's number off as they approached the checkpoint (Rick also took care of calling Mark when a runner was down on the trails and cut some fruit when we started to run out). The runners didn't have to stop at the checkpoint but the majority of them did since we were at mile 17.7!
The calm before the storm
At 10:23am the first runner arrived! For about half an hour the runners slowly trickled in, but after that it was a madhouse!
Mike and Rick waiting for the runners
The first female runner!
Karen and I asked each runner that came in, "what do you need?" and tried to make it very clear what we had available to them. Most of the runners looked extremely tired, but some seemed like they hadn't even been running!
Handing a runner his water bottle
During the mad rush, I was able to meet Eric from Roc the Run! He was there supporting his #TrailsRoc crew, who did a great job, with his wife, Sheila, and dog, Picasso. It was great to finally meet another Rochester running blogger!
For the next few hours, Karen and I filled water bottles with water, Gatorade or a combination of both. We got runners band aids, ice, salt tablets and took their chips away when they decided to DNF (did not finish). Fortunately, we didn't have to force anyone to DNF (well, not because of their physical/mental state)! We also answered any questions that they had, including the obvious ones, about what mile they were at in the marathon, how many more miles they had until the next checkpoint, what time it was and what the cutoff time was for our checkpoint.
Some of the answers
As the time for our cutoff, 1:13pm, approached we only had about 11 runners still out on the trails. A few JUST made it in time, but there were two runners who didn't make the cutoff. We were all dreading this part, but luckily Mark was there and he told the runners that they couldn't continue. We also had two runners unaccounted for (even though Mike may have checked off the wrong runner one time) so Mark had to try to locate them, hopefully they just got through our checkpoint without being checked off!
When it was all over, we both knew that we want to volunteer for this race again! The runners were so appreciative of our support and I feel like they appreciated it more than runners in road races. I think the personal attention that we gave to each runner felt more worthwhile, but I am still looking forward to volunteering at the Rochester Marathon!
Now, would we run this race? Mike doesn't think he wants to ever, but I'm not going to rule it out just yet. It was a tough day out there for the runners and trails aren't everyone's favorite thing, but the camaraderie out there just couldn't be beat!
Would you brave the trails for 26.2 miles?
It was great giving back to the running community, especially since Mike and I run in so many races with great volunteers. We are definitely going to volunteer for at least one race a year from now on!
Have you volunteered at a race this year? If not, you should!