Why is this a different kind of race recap? It’s because I wasn’t a runner during last night’s Davis Moonlight run. Instead, I was a volunteer. The best part about it all was that I had a BLAST!
The evening started with Kelly picking me up at my house. The race was about an hour away. We made it to the starting location with about an hour to spare. Kelly needed to pick up her bib and I needed to check in to the volunteer tent. She dawned her race bib and I, my bright neon vest.
A race organizer quickly gathered myself and two other volunteers as he told us, “Follow me,” and made his way quickly down the bike path. He told me my station was to tell the 10k runners to go right and the 10 mile / half marathoners to go straight. First, however, I was to stand about 100 yards from the finish line to help direct the kids to the finish line of the kids race. It was so much fun to get to cheer all of the kids on as they bravely made their way to the finish!
Soon, it was back to my other post where I’d be for the next 2.5 hours!
I was really surprised by the number of people who stopped to ask me race course questions. Even though I ran this race last year, I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t really remember the course that much. Not to mention, I am not familiar with the area. People were asking me questions such as, “Do the runners run all the way down to Target? Which direction is 5th street? Where else can I cheer on the half marathoners?” I did not have a course map on me and proved to not be very helpful with bystanders’ questions.
For the runners, however, I think I did a pretty good job of directing the blue colored bibs (10k runners) to the right and the red colored bibs (10 milers) / green colored bibs (half marathon runners) straight. All of the aforementioned runners actually ran past me twice. First, they ran south of me and then they ran north. The first run by, Kelly captured this picture of me (be sure to pay close attention to the size of the 10k turn-off sign)…
I captured these pictures of Kelly and Rachel as they ran past the first time. I was very proud of them for braving the 100 degree heat!
While waiting for the runners to pass me for a second time, I enjoyed talking to some bystanders around me. One gentleman walked up holding a delicious-looking piece of pizza. My volunteer shift was from 6:30 – 9:30pm and I had not eaten dinner. (Yes, not very smart on my part.) With a salivating mouth I asked, “Where did you get that pizza?” He pointed to a tent that was set up at the finish line about 150 yards away. There were two teenage girls standing nearby. I pulled out some cash and asked the girls if they’d be willing to go buy me a piece of pizza. Fortunately, they obliged. (I pulled off the pepperoni and enjoyed every last, delicious bite!)
Not too long after enjoying my $5 piece of pizza, the first place 10k finisher came whizzing past as he made his way to the finish line.
I was very blessed to have been placed in a location with shade. I brought two water bottles, sunscreen, bug spray, a hat, a fan, and a spray bottle in preparation for the worst. Fortunately, I didn’t need the fan at all since I was both in the shade and there was a breeze all evening long. As the runners came past me for the second time, I decided to mist them. Most runners were quite ecstatic and profusely thanked me.
Overall, I had a fantastic experience volunteering at the Davis Moonlight run. There was one runner though who totally left an unpleasant taste in my mouth. Remember when I told you to pay attention to the size of the 10k sign I was standing near? Well, there was a 10k runner who somehow missed the turn-off, ran past me, and then came back my direction to make the correct turn. As she did so, she proceeded to point to me while yelling, “Bad job! I missed the turn! Bad job!”
I was so taken aback by this woman for many reasons. 1) As a fellow runner, if I miss a huge, obvious turn off sign, I will laugh it off and place the blame on myself, not someone else. 2) She thought it was okay to point a finger at me and tell me I was doing a bad job. 3) How could she miss the turn off sign AND me pointing while telling all of the runners, “10k to the right”? 4) She was not vying for first place. She was a middle-of-the-pack runner.
Sure, she was probably embarrassed, but that’s never an okay reason to place the blame on someone else for your own error. What I learned from this woman was that words hurt. Lift others up and never berate a race volunteer.
As I look back on this experience, I will choose to remember the positive. I will remember my hands hurting from clapping so much as I cheered all the runners on. I will remember the many runners who thanked me for volunteering, for my smiles, and for my misting. I will remember the high fives and all of the inspiring runners I saw out on the course.
What are the phrases you enjoy volunteers shouting out to you during a run? Have you ever volunteered at a race? If so, what was your experience?
Until next time,