Thursday, February 21, 2013

VOLUNTEERS: We can't race without them!

As runners, we can't possibly run every race.  Even in Sudbury, where there isn't a race every weekend!

We have lives, families, training schedules.  But here's the great thing about races---are you ready for this?
You don't have to run in a race to be involved.  VOLUNTEER!

Any avid runner will tell you that without volunteers, our sport just wouldn't happen. From course set up, to course marshals, water stations, finish line volunteers, medical officials, etc.  The list of possibilities is endless.

Both Denise and I make it a point to volunteer at any event we can. It is an incredible experience, and so empowering to see people of all ages, shapes, sizes completing a race.  It may be their first, or their 100th race.  They may be on their way to their best time ever or their worst.  The emotions a runner experiences during a race can run the full gamut, and depending on where on the course you are: you feel it with them.

My absolute favorite place to be at a race I am not running is the finish line.  To see the emotions that people experience in the last few hundred meters leaves you in awe.  I've seen people go from agony, to relief, to joy, pride, happiness and disbelief.  I am not a knowledgeable, nor trained photographer. I have a camera, and I take pictures for fun.

For the past 4 or 5 years, I have volunteered to take pictures at the local Hypothermic Half Marathon, hosted by the Running Room in Sudbury.  Our course is a double loop.  I take pictures of everyone as they come around the first time, and then I zip up to the finish line, plop myself on top of my trusty flower planter and snap away.

Check out the emotion in these pictures!

As this runner approached the finish, he called out to his son and held out his  hand.  I was so happy to capture that moment!

These friends ran together and finished together.  I love that they finished in style.  Denise and I finished Midsummer Night Run and Montreal Marathon this way and there really is something unifying about it.

Check out the frosty beard and the massive icicle hanging from this racer's beard! Hyperthermic, indeed!
The young man in this picture ran side by side with his girlfriend in this race.  It may have been her first half-marathon, I don't know.  I can tell you that he has finished this race over an hour faster than the time he did this one.  He's won it. But one look at this and you can see how proud he is of her and that he'd do it again in a heartbeat! We runners are funny like that.  We love to help others reach their goals!

This guy was super excited!

This man was one of the last to finish.  He is accompanied on each side by our "sweeps". There are those that  ask if finishing last is embarassing or discouraging.  I personally think the runners that finish towards the back of the pack are some of the strongest, most dedicated people you will ever meet.

Try volunteering at a race sometime. Its an experience you will never forget. In fact, why not volunteer at Sudbury Rocks!! on Mother's Day.  Check out the details here.

Long may we run.


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