Volunteering at races a great way to pay it forward

Volunteers from the Delaware County Running Club help out at the Philadelphia Marathon.
      When you compete in your next race, keep one thing in mind.
      Without a bunch of hard-working volunteers, you would have no race to run.
      You see them everywhere, from the registration table, to the course monitors, to the water table workers to the finish line officials.
      Nearly all of them are runners themselves, offering their services with gratitude and without pay because the payback is having a year-round schedule of competitions for all to enjoy.
      The process begins up to as much as a year before the event because so much planning is involved. Race committees put together everything from shirts and awards to insurance, sponsors, refreshments and registration.
      But it’s the people who get up at the crack of dawn on race day and quickly put the whole show together in a matter of hours who really deserve a great deal of credit.
      The recent Bucks County Roadrunners Club Thanksgiving Day 5-Miler/5K/1-Miler was a perfect example.
      Now in its 32nd year, the T-Day race gets dozens of people involved in all sorts of necessary tasks, right down to the young adults helping out with traffic control in the parking lots.
      It’s quite a handful for around a thousand runners but, as usual, this year went off without a hitch.
      Longtime runner and volunteer Emily Grace of Washington Crossing provided a comprehensive list of reasons why volunteering for races has so many benefits.
      Those include:
      >You are really needed and appreciated because the race cannot be run without your help.
      >At many races (especially BCRR events and Bucks 5K events) you get to see your friends and other wonderful people that you may not have seen for awhile and wish them well.
      >You get to work as a team with other like-minded people.
      >It’s a day off from running and, if you want to, you can also wear normal clothes rather than five layers of spandex and fleece.
      >The people you help often give you love and appreciation for your efforts.
      >Because of your efforts, many other good things happen for the people you help, paying it forward in the runners’ world.
      >Volunteering helps elevate mood, reduce depression and increase energy.
       >You almost always leave with a feeling of accomplishment and contentment because you made good use of your time today.
      BCRR official Richard Kanak appreciates what volunteers offer.
      “As a volunteer organization (BCRR) it’s all about the volunteers,’’ he said. “From the president of the club to the guy throwing the trash in the dumpster after the race, and every aspect in between, it doesn’t happen if we don’t have volunteers.’’
       Races such as the T-Day slate in Langhorne demand countless contributions.
      “There are so many things to be done when we put on an event like the Thanksgiving Day race for over 1,000 runners and every year we keep our fingers crossed that we will get enough volunteers,’’ Kanak said. “The Winter Series is no different and has its own unique volunteer opportunities. From fire pit supervisor to race director there’s something for everyone to help out with.
      “Volunteering is a great way to be involved in the running community.’’
      Jim Stein, who worked at the T-Day race registration table and medal distribution, has been in recovery from recent surgery and found the opportunity to help out to be a rewarding effort.
      “I wanted to help the club and still experience the excitement of race day, so I volunteered – first with registration, and then handing out finisher medals,’’ he said. “You get a different perspective of a race, especially the finish line, as a volunteer, as opposed to focusing solely on your own running as a participant.’’
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About Wayne Fish 2437 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.