Three cheers for volunteers! {A non-running race recap.}

The BRRC Grand Prix is OVER!!

The series of 8 races wrapped up last weekend with what I think was originally supposed to be a cross country 5 mile race, but which ended up being a 3 miler. The distance didn’t matter to me because I was not running it. Instead I woke up at 6am on Sunday full of excitement for my first experience as a race volunteer!


I was just about as dramatic about it as this although not in a bad way.

As part of the GPS all the participants are required to volunteer for one race in order to be eligible for an award at the end of the year. Race series or not I’ve been itching to volunteer for something and this presented the perfect opportunity. Race volunteers are some of the best people on the planet and quite a few of them have gotten me through some really hard times. Hopefully I would be able to make someone else’s race easier in some way too.

The first thing I noticed when my alarm went off was the sound of the wind outside. I’m sure a lot of you were geeking out over the NYC Marathon like I was and I’m sure you heard things about the wind up there. It was a similar situation here. The wind was howling through the trees behind my house and blowing my little car all over the road as I set out on the 40 minute drive to the race location. And it was pretty “cold” out too with temps in the 40’s.

I use the term “cold” loosely now after running last winter; 40 degrees is positively balmy compared to what I’ll be running in a couple months from now.

I stopped to pick up a coffee as large as my head, hoping it would keep me warm as well as wake me up.


As you can see I’m not kidding…it was like a liter of coffee.

As soon as I arrived I jumped right to work, helping a friendly guy who was already there with getting people registered. The RD and other volunteers were out marking the course which was a one mile loop that runners would lap three times. I’ve already established my dislike of cross country, but I was almost convinced that I should run the race myself. I had shoes in the car and I would have been a lot warmer had I been moving around more. In the end I decided to just stay cold and that was okay; I was having fun talking to people and trying to keep the money from blowing out of the cash box. After about 10 minutes my liter of hot coffee was more like an iced coffee.

At promptly 8am the runners started off. Other volunteers including another club member’s helpful gang of 4 young children got the water stop set up and I spread out all the post-race goodies that the awesome RD had brought for everyone: bagels, cream cheese, donuts, pretzels, and of course no post-Halloween race would be complete without candy. Someone even made homemade pumpkin bread. A little less than 7 minutes later, the leaders finished up their first lap and I realized how hard this course had to be and would hear all about the hills later after everyone was done. I passed some time cheering and clapping as well as I could through my gloves and jumping up and down which helped me stay warm. At one point a huge gust of wind came through and knocked over the clock. For a second I thought the whole race was screwed, but luckily these people know a lot more about how to time a race than I do and had backup timers. After that we wisely left the clock on the ground.

It was really cool to stand at the finish and watch as everyone completed their races. Afterward a lot of people stuck around to chat and eat despite the uncomfortable weather and the fact that the bagels were blown clear off the table by another huge blast of wind. People were coming up and thanking me. I was just so happy to be there helping…they didn’t need to thank me for anything, but still it made me feel awesome.

Because the race had been pretty small and there were so many helpful folks there, clean up was a breeze (haha wind puns). I was warming back up in my car by 10am. Total whirlwind (hahahahaha sorry) of a morning, but so much fun and definitely an experience I hope to have again soon. I’m pretty much in love with volunteering.

Have you every volunteered for a race? What was your experience like? 

Happy Tuesday everybody!! Two days of posts in a row? I’m on a roll!




48 thoughts on “Three cheers for volunteers! {A non-running race recap.}

  1. Chaitali says:

    I’ve volunteered twice this year and they were both great experiences. One was a local 50k and the 2nd was the Nike Women’s Half. They were obviously both very different races but both were rewarding. I absolutely agree with you that the volunteers in the races I’ve run have really pulled me through at times and I hope that I can do the same for other runners 🙂

  2. DarlinRae says:

    I definitely want to volunteer sometime, especially after the race this weekend–so many wonderful volunteers who kept me smiling and running. It would be nice to be that person for someone else!

    • runsaltrun says:

      I was totally ready to drink the whole thing too, but it got cold so fast and then it tasted gross. 🙂 I definitely recommend volunteering to EVERYONE now! It was such a great experience!

  3. Piper's Run says:

    It’s been a few years but I volunteered for the youth run for 3 years in a row and was in charge of a group of volunteers along the route. It was fun! I’d love to volunteer or get back on a committee to plan a run/event.

    • runsaltrun says:

      I would LOVE to race direct one day. The woman who directs most of the run club races is like a super hero. She was telling us everything she was up against to get this one organized and it was just crazy!

    • runsaltrun says:

      Now that is definitely something I could get into. I think I remember reading about one of your experiences when I first started following your blog! That sounds like so much fun.

  4. SuzLyfe says:

    I have so much respect and gratitude for race volunteers. It is a long day, a thankless job, and a dirty/messy one at that. I’ve been a volunteer for many things, but not yet for a race, and I am kinda ok with that 😀 I learned my volunteering lesson lllllooonnnngggg ago, haha. But volunteering for the Chi Marathon reminded me of how much inner motivation it takes to be a volunteer–you have to drive yourself, as it were!

    • runsaltrun says:

      You really do! Luckily I feel like having been around so many races in the past year and a half I knew exactly what to just jump right into so I was never standing around twiddling my thumbs. So much really goes into it! I loved every minute. 🙂

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Not quite volunteering, but my previous job was working at a non profit and some of our major fundraisers were races, of either the biking or running variety. I had to put in a lot of overtime to help run them, and they required a lot of early mornings! Since I was an employee it wasn’t technically volunteering, but I also wasn’t paid extra for it so I may as well have been haha. I always wondered whether I’d enjoy volunteering for a race when I have the choice.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Hahahaha it’s seriously bigger than my head.
      I actually thought about you the other day when I was going to volunteer. Your experience at Ironman really stuck with me. You sound like one of the best volunteers in history. 🙂

  6. FLRunnerBoy says:

    Sounds like an amazing and cold experience Salt!! No haven’t ever volunteered for an event but I’d love to in the future. Is that a coffee cup or a coffee keg hahaha lol 🙂 those glasses and hat are to cute!!! Yeah we started out Sunday morning with temps in the 40’s here and another front is due to hit on Friday.

    • runsaltrun says:

      It was so amazing and so so so so cold. (Although not as cold as it will be later!)
      Sometimes I wish I had a keg of coffee. Or one of those hats that people put cans of beer in with the straws. I need that for coffee. 🙂

  7. piratebobcat says:

    Very cool! I haven’t volunteered yet, but I appreciate all of them. Best I’ve done is to go to races to cheer for runners, and maybe run with a few of them to help them out.
    Don’t OD on coffee!

  8. runawaybridalplanner says:

    What a great experience! I hate to say, I have never volunteered. I was put in charge to help organize my first race earlier this year, and although as a runner I always thought highly of the volunteers. It wasn’t until I had to organize one that I realized how monumental they are for a race. I really need to do it sometime!!!

    • runsaltrun says:

      You would LOVE it. I would love to help organize a race one day! Watching everything our RD was doing on Sunday and hearing about all the challenges she had faced over the previous weeks trying to get everything in order…it sounded so crazy and impossible! (So of course obviously I want to try it myself now.)

    • runsaltrun says:

      That’s exactly how I felt about it too! It felt crazy to have people thank me for being out there having fun and helping, but it made sense. I am always so thankful for the volunteers!

  9. Kathryn @ Dancing to Running says:

    Volunteering is so much fun! I’ve volunteered at two races – last year’s Army Ten Miler and this year’s Marine Corps Marathon. I can’t wait to volunteer again! Its so fun to be a part of the action, even if you aren’t running the race.

    • runsaltrun says:

      Those are such huge races to volunteer for!! My next goal is to do a really big one. Maybe next year. 🙂 It is definitely so much fun and I kind of loved being at the race without the pressure of racing.

  10. littlegreenrunningshoes says:

    Fun! I love volunteering for races. It gives me a chance to stay involved in the running community even if I need a break from running. I love being able to cheer for folks and hopefully add a little pep in their step. Way to go Salt! Glad you didn’t blow away…

    • runsaltrun says:

      Haha I literally sat here staring at the computer while I was writing this post trying to think of some more obnoxious wind puns.
      I never thought of volunteering at an expo! I’ll be adding that to the list of things that I want to try next. 🙂

  11. Sue @ This Mama Runs For Cupcakes says:

    I love volunteering! It’s really fun to be on the other side, because let’s face it…all of the races we run would never happen if there weren’t volunteers. Gotta share the love!

  12. ambertherunner says:

    I volunteered for the first time on Sunday too! It was for the Rockville 5k/10k – but luckily I was inside at the registration table, so I stayed toasty warm 🙂 That wind was BRUTAL. I couldn’t imagine being outside in it and NOT running

  13. Karen says:

    I loved your post! My husband and I have organized several small local races and we loved the experience. We really try to thank the volunteers along a race route knowing that the race just couldn’t happen without them!

  14. Tina Muir says:

    Very kind of you for doing this lovely lady! I am so thankful for the volunteers, and it gives you a whole new sense of perspective right? I really want to do it someday, so I can appreciate it more. I am sure all the runners were so thankful that you helped them on their journey 🙂

  15. Lauren @ ihadabiglunch says:

    I’ve only volunteered once and it truly made me realize how much volunteers do! Plus, they’re usually out early in freeeeezing temperatures and they don’t get to warm up like the runners, so bless their hearts.

  16. Sara @ lifebetweenthemiles says:

    I’m so glad you had that experience. I have volunteered before and it is really gratifying to be able to motivate and encourage others like so many have done for us when we have raced. I know sometimes the volunteers are the ones that help you push harder when you just want to stop!!

  17. Change of Pace says:

    Yay for volunteering, and for having fun doing it despite the chilly temps! I can’t imagine not having fun volunteering at a race, where so many people are just happy to be there! (And I love that the race series gets people to volunteer- smart!)
    I’ve volunteered at a few running races and one bike race. This summer I volunteered at an open water swim race after my SUP race. It was so cool to see an open water swim from that perspective. (I was about 500m from the shore on my SUP board.)

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