Saturday, September 29, 2007

Arkansas Marathon & 20k

Wow -- I knew that it took a lot to put on a race... but volunteering has given me much, much more respect for those who do it. WOW.

I arrived at the field house at 5:15 AM. I "slept in" until 4:20 AM. I helped the main guy, Pete, unload his van. Pete practically put on the whole event by himself! No kidding. It was pretty amazing.

With two other ladies, I worked the registration table. There was a total of 149 racers (112 for the 20k, 37 for the marathon). A ton of people signed up on the spot. I have never done that. It was certainly easier to "check in" a pre-registered person!

The marathon started at 6:30 AM. I stepped outside, cashbox in hand, to watch the start. Pete simply gave instructions with a bullhorn (is that right? maybe they're called megaphones -- it was electronic) The high school ROTC students staffed all of the water stops. Radio folks were out, too, to report on the whereabouts of the racers. What an operation!

As the 20k began at 7:30 AM, I had just as much excitement about me as I did when the marathoners took off. I wanted to be out there! Alas, I was a volunteer. My next job was to be the backup finish line timer. I got to push a little device that looked like a "pain pump" that people get in the hospital. Another lady pushed the main "pain pump." We perched together at the finish line, which was lined with state flags. The finish line itself was duct tape on the asphalt street. Ha!

The 20k winner came storming in with a time of 1:13. Wow! He was the son-in-law of the lady who cuts my hair. I have been hearing about him for years. And he is at nearly every race that I am.

A while later the winner of the marathon zipped in with a time of 3:13. My friend Lou finished the 20k in 2:25.

My main observation of the finishers was that they all looked relatively GOOD. I thought I would see more angst... but even I put on a "good face" for the finish line. Maybe the water stops were where all of the angst was seen.

After a while, it got to be b-o-r-i-n-g. There would be huge gaps between finishers. Not exciting! But then another would come in and there would be a little fiesta. The last marathoner arrived in just over six hours -- the whole crowd cheered!

The minute that guy crossed the line and the finish line chairs (which were seldom used) were returned to the field house, I was "dismissed" by Pete. It was nearly an 8-hour commitment.

It was just amazing -- all of the hours donated by individuals to put on a race. The guy who handled the timing has handled all of the timing for all races in Benton, and who knows where all else. That is a commitment! The rear of his SUV looks like starfleet command!

I give volunteering two thumbs up. I highly recommend it. I aim to do it at least once per year from here on out!


Petraruns said...

Susan what a great thing to do! I don't know how you fit everything into your life? Well I do actually - you get up really really really early..

But seriously, it sounds like you had a great time. And you know what? I think that guy you talked to was right - you are ready for St. Jude's! No-one's worked harder at it than you, you are nearly there my friend!

Dawn said...

Volunteering always gives me such a great feeling too - and a better perspective of what it takes to put on large events like festivals and marathons! Way to go Susan..

MarathonChris said...

Way to go Susan! Reminds me that I need to get out there to volunteer since I am not running quite as many of the shorter events as I did last year. As I ran the 15K yesterday, I spent lots of time thanking all the volunteers and police officers I met along the way. They are great - and thanks to them, we are able to run safely!!

Thanks for being one of those race volunteer warriors!

IrishBlue said...

Volunteering for a race is a great idea. Sounds like a fun day.

Maddy said...

Great job volunteering ! What a great way to give back!

PLANET3RRY said...

Great work Susan! Isn't volunteering fun? ANd you'll always appreciate the volunteers at races.

I got to do the "pain pump" at a 5k once, that was fun... a little stressful but fun!

CewTwo said...

At my last half-marathon, my friend, Tom, volunteered at the finish line removing shoe chips. He was sorer than I was. It lasted a week for him. He said he must have untied 20 shoes that day.

He also had two seperate guys that literally fell on him as they crossed the finish line. He assisted (carried) them to the medical tent nearby.

If nothing else, he said that it was an interesting experience and that I should appreciate the volunteers much more than I do. Of course, I never said that I didn't appreciate them. The race coordinator was also performing this function and was very surprised (and appreciative) when Tom got there.

His observations were much the same as yours. He was even close to knowing when I was about to cross the finish line.

Thanks for volunteering, Susan!