Monday, May 28, 2012

What Do You Need?

On Saturday Mike and I volunteered at a race for the first time!

 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!

28 comments:

  1. Great to meet you. The crew loved all the volunter support out thetr.

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    1. Thanks Eric! Photo next time? And any time you want to have two trail newbies join you, let me know!

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  2. What a great experience! I'm hoping to volunteer at a summer race soon... glad you had fun out there! Volunteers are so vital to the success of the race. I hope you heard lots of "thank you"s!

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    1. I hope you get to volunteer soon!

      We definitely heard a lot of thank yous, everyone was very appreciative!

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  3. I don't think I have volunteered this year... but I like doing it too- it's kinda fun watching other people out there doing the running and motivating them to move on. I don't know if Mike remembers, but we volunteered around 17 mile mark of Mohawk Hudson Marathon one year. We manned the water stop. It was in Cohoes, tell Mike!

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    1. I agree, it is fun to be out there!

      He remembers volunteering at that race.

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  4. I love volunteering! Lately, I've been liking to volunteer to take pictures as well - you know runners love to check out their race pics! :)

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    1. That would be fun too! I love taking photos!

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  5. When I'm feeling a runners rut, I will usually try to volunteer at a nice race to put me back in the spirit. Looks like a good run, maybe a good practice run for me if I ever make it to the ultra distance :)

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    1. That's a great way to get back into the running spirit!

      I think this race may even be harder than some ultras, just because of the constant up and down associated with it!

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  6. I volunteered at the Cleveland Marathon last year. I gave out medals to the finishers of the half marathon. It was awesome to see all my friends as well as give them their well earned bling!

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    1. Awesome! I think for the Rochester Marathon we are going to be doing water stops or finish line stuff. We'll see what we end up doing!

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  7. I have not volunteered but I would like to. That looks like a fun event too. Now the only dilemma is run it or volunteer it? ;)

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    1. Haha, I know! If you ever want to brave the trails again and do the relay with me that might sway me to run it!

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  8. I am hoping to run this next year!!!! Love that single track!

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    1. I was wondering if you wanted to run this :) It looks like a perfect race for you!

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  9. Wow a trail marathon, thats intense. Looks like fun for all the runners though!

    What a great checkpoint stop with all the fruit and all. I wish all races had that! Looks like you guys had a great time :)

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    1. It was intense! I know, Mike and I were talking about what we would want to eat at the checkpoint if we were racing and we both said the fruit.

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  10. I really enjoy Eric's blog. That's neat that you saw him out on the course! Trail marathons or even half marathons for that matter look so tough. I'm sure this one was no exception!

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    1. It was fun to meet him! We live in the same town and we had yet to meet each other, so when we both were going to be there we took advantage of the opportunity!

      It definitely is tough, but it looked like so much fun that I may do it!

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  11. How long did they have to get to your checkpoint before cutoff? Not making it would be heartbreaking! I understand it's not just a trail but a hard hilly trail?

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    1. They had 5 hours and 15 minutes to get to our check point, so at 1:13pm they couldn't continue. It is extremely hard and hilly!

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  12. What a cool race! Glad y'all got to volunteer and give back to this community that we've all become a part of :)

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    1. It was a great experience! We are looking forward to our next volunteer opportunity.

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  13. Good for you for volunteering! Volunteers rock! Looks like a VERY tough race!

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  14. You guys are such model runners. It sounds like an interesting experience.

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  15. What a great experience and write up of it! I haven't volunteered at a race yet, but now I definitely want to!

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  16. Awesome that you volunteered for that race. The womens winner actually runs with my running group I think. That course is so tough, I cant even imagine!

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