Recently during an article I was writing I decided to mention the need for volunteers at the event I was covering.
This created a unique question in my mind and one that was not so easy to answer.
Why do I always go to events and participate yet never have been a race day volunteer myself?
Well…..honestly I like to play, not work, and while that may make me selfish to some point it is what it is…….or was until now.
Early yesterday morning my wife and I got out of bed and bundled up to head into the mountains so we could volunteer our time and run a water stop for the Heavenly Half Marathon from the Crestmans Store on the way to Shaver Lake to the town of Auberry 13 miles below. As we drove up the 4 lane I became a bit nervous as I saw the temperature dropping on my dash-board and wondering if I had dressed warm enough as it was still pre dawn and we were climbing ever higher. In the end I was fine. Whew!
Once up the mountain we found our water stop at the 2.25 mile point had already been supplied with all we needed to fill the army of runners with some much-needed water, basic first aid and everything needed to clean up after the last runner passed us by for the day. The set up was quick as my wife and I joked around while I tried to just “get it ready” and she tried in all her OCD glory to have it “just right”. Luck would have us compromising with “ready and organized” and no blood drawn in the battle for who got their way.
Just as the runners started to come by everything became a blur of time, sweat and neon swirling around. Yet before we knew it our team of water ninjas were all standing around giving high fives to each other for a job well done. From first runner to last was about 50 minutes, thats fast.
That my friends leads me to a quick top 3 take aways from my volunteer debut that I hope will motivate one or thirty of you to take the leap from participant to helper at least once this year.
While my wife and I work in our practice 5 days a week side by side we rarely work in our play areas together. Getting to see her out of the office, out of her Mom hat, out of our normal routine was for me, romantic. It was easy to see why we fell in love in the first place. We like the same things, work well together, work totally differently AND it was a great date in the outdoors for a good cause.
Being able to pay it forward and help my friend Scott with his race was a blessing for me more than it was a help to him. He could have asked anyone to run the station but he asked me and I jumped at the chance. I could have said I was busy or that I wanted to run trying to dodge the request but why? So I could sleep in? Perhaps. But knowing I got to help a childhood friend with his event and seeing the smile on his face as he drove by to check if everything was ready was priceless.
That leads us to the
NUMBER ONE reason to volunteer in 2015.
The smiles and thank you’s from the runners! The runners of FresYes through their athletic suffering were so grateful and happy to see us standing there with a Dixie cup half full of water you would think they were 5 year olds at Halloween. Smiles, thank you’s, shout outs from friends running by, pleas for help in one form or another came in from every direction. I heard a few Hi Marks, couple of shouts out to Dr Sasser and a whole lot of blank stares turning to quick smiles as the cup hit their hands. It was an amazing experience that not even coming in first at the Fresno Cycling Clubs Climb to Kaiser matched. On top of that I didn’t even break a sweat in the process. Thats a good way to enjoy a running race in my book.
I guess my point is not everything we do in the outdoors has to be an activity, sport or event. It can be a day spent helping others do the things we also love because I promise you this……without the volunteer we would have no events.