Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Giving Back - Volunteering at the Spring Fling Half Marathon

L was supposed to be running the Spring Fling half marathon the day I was in Moab. However, due to a foot of snow, the race was postponed. The organizers put out a frantic request on Facebook for volunteers. Due to the rescheduling, spring break AND Easter weekend, they were experiencing a major shortage in help. For a brief moment, I thought about racing. Then changed my mind and signed A and I up to help out instead.

My dad and H decided to join us, and the four of us added to the giant total of 22 volunteers for the race. We arrived at 7:30 and were greeted with donuts and coffee. My dad and H were assigned to the first aid station and A and I were helping with packet pick-up. There were three distances available - 5k, 10k and half marathon. And they all started at different times. Luckily, this eased the congestion of handing out packets.

Due to the shortage of volunteers, it was a bit frustrating when we came across "problems" and there was no one of authority to help. People who say they registered online but they were not on my list was an issue for a few runners. Also, this race required a photo ID to pick up, and probably half the people didn't have one. Then there were all the people that wanted to change distances or use someone else's bib. All issues I have never really thought about when I race. No one got too upset, and everything went pretty smoothly.

Due to the lack of volunteers, there were multiple cautions given to the runners about following the course markings as there were not enough volunteers to be at every possible location - only at places where runner safety might be in jeopardy. Remember, only 22 volunteers, and most of them were at the aid stations or the start/finish line.

The half marathon started at 9:00, the 10K at 9:30 and the 5K at 9:45. This staggered start I'm sure eased congestion on the course, and had people pretty much finishing at the same time.

I was GLAD I had decided not to run. It was the WINDIEST ever. A lot of time was spent trying to make sure things didn't blow away. However, a lot of the canopies had to be taken down because even sand bags zip tied to the legs wouldn't keep them from blowing away. Even the finish line blew down a few times before they finally gave up putting it back up.

We had about 20 minutes of prep time before the runners started finishing. A and I were also in charge of handing out finisher medals:

All runners would get a medal, regardless of the distance they were running. This was a smaller race, and for most of the runners, they did special announcements (I'm assuming there was a section for "about me" information during the registration process). For many, this was their first race. Awesome to see so many "first timers."

A few runners claimed they "didn't know it was the finish line." Well, I know the finish line sign blew down, but the neon green chute and canopy at the end should have been a hint.

Most runners do NOT want you to put the medal around your neck. Probably helpful to A since she is so small. Also, runners are sweaty, sweaty, sweaty. Further amazement at the Disney characters that ACTUALLY TOUCH RUNNERS. ON PURPOSE. Ew.

A few runners refused their medal. Adamantly. Interesting.

And, a few runners were MAD. I got screamed at by a decent number of half marathoners that got lost on the course and ended up running extra distances. I know I was the first person they saw across the line, but it was frustrating for me. By this time, I had already been out there for HOURS. Gives a whole new appreciation to runners, especially those at the bigger events that deal with WAY more runners. So, just try to be nice to volunteers, remember, they are doing this for FREE.

Overall, I had a pretty fun day, and I will of course volunteer again when I have the opportunity. If you haven't had a chance to do so yet, please do, most runners are very appreciative of the efforts you put in! I enjoyed my free burritos, coffee, donuts AND, thanks to the postponement, all bananas from the prior week became the most delicious banana bread EVER.

(This race offered FREE race pictures, which is how I have so many of me and A to share. There are probably 30 more of us that I'm not posting. Running Guru is the BEST!!)


  1. Wow, crazy! I have only volunteered at 5ks and 10ks and while some people don't accept the ribbon or don't want you to tack their timing tag (my running club does it the old school timing way by putting you in line in the finish chute), I can't imagine getting screamed at. ALSO, I love when the volunteers put the medal on me, because If I raced hard enough, I don't even want to lift my arms when I'm done. :) This is shocking to be people don't want volunteers to do this.

    Glad you didn't get puked on, sorry you got yelled at, and thanks for inspiring me for wanting to go back out there to volunteer some more. I don't do nearly enough of it, but I'm always so grateful for the volunteers who are out there.

    1. Man. I'm really happy I didn't get puked on either.

  2. I really love when the volunteers put the medal on for me. Why were people ADAMANTLY refusing the medal!? That's weird. People are SO weird.

    Also, you should have kicked the yellers. Rude.

  3. that first picture A looks like she is about to cry- maybe sun in her eyes, either way its cute.

    I can't believe runners yelled at you for the course not being marked... as if its your fault. Thats what the facebook page is for, not for yelling at the volunteers... if anything, find the race director and give them an earful. Thanks for helping out and giving back to running community, even if they weren't all grateful!

  4. I can't believe the runners weren't more prepared with a postponed race and the info they got on FB about lack of volunteers...race at your own risk...

    Way to give back and get the kids involved. Very cool.

  5. Hey sista face just poppin in to say hello! So nice to meet you, you have a fantastic blog here. Cant wait to follow along.
    Have a fantastic week!
    BTW keep up the great work you are an inspiration to everyone!!

  6. I can't imagine yelling at a race volunteer. Glad you and A had a great time aside from that and the crazy wind.


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