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My Los Angeles Marathon story: as a volunteer! - The Original Live Journal Runners Club — LiveJournal
My Los Angeles Marathon story: as a volunteer!
I don't think I've ever seen a race report from a volunteer's point of view, and not sure how many of you have volunteered for a marathon before, but here goes...

I decided not to run the LA Marathon this year... I ran it last year and sort of decided to take a break from marathons for a while. And I'm still on that break. So when my running club was staffing a water station in the race, I put my name in to help out.

I got up at 5:00am to head to the water station that I was volunteering at, the mile 7 station. In the days preceding the race, I was anxiously watching the weather reports, praying for no rain. But upon dragging myself out of bed in the darkness, I knew my prayers wouldn't be answered that day.

After a Starbucks stop to pump caffeine (and warmth) into my body, I made my way to Silver Lake and found the mile 7 volunteer check-in, which was mobbed with students... you see, this water stop was manned by two different organizations: a school and my running club. I'd say the school had about 2/3 of the volunteers, and about 1/3 were from my running club... probably at least 75 people total. Anyway, I determined that the check-in was to receive a bright yellow volunteer t-shirt. And I didn't really need a bright yellow volunteer t-shirt. So I ignored the check-in and just joined my clubmates to start setting up.

Once I arrived, the rain had stopped. Yay!

Soon after I got there, "the truck" came by. We unloaded cases and cases of water and gatorade powder, and gatorade coolers. One large pouch of gatorade powder, plus 7 gallons of water, filled up one cooler. So after unloading, I was on gatorade duty, first mixing up some batches, then halfway filling up the cups and laying them out on the table. My finger was sore from pressing the spigot button for half an hour or more, and my hands were sticky. We completely covered several large tables, 4 layers high, with cups.

After we had pretty much finished filling the cups, the pace cars came by, and the wheelchair competitors whooshed by. None of them wanted drinks, which didn't surprise me (not sure how they'd be able to wheel themselves and hold their drink at the same time)... then we waited... then maybe 15 minutes later, the elite women came by, looking great! I started passing out water, and continued for another 3 hours or so...

Somewhere between the elite women and the elite men, the rain started up again. I was wearing a running cap, though, which kept the rain out of my face. Thankfully.

We waited longer, but we could tell how close the elite men were by the helicopter following them. The elite men ran by, and then a few more, a trickle at first and then a full-fledged mob. The rain seemed to be coming down pretty hard at that point.

I just continuously passed out water. Most pass-offs were seamless, but I remember one woman in particular who tried grabbing water from me, and dropped it, then tried the next person and dropped it, and so on for 4 or 5 people! Thankfully it wasn't gatorade; it would have ended up all over us.

I passed water to Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers. And Brendon from last season's Big Brother. As well as several friends that were running the race.

As the faster runners gave way to mid-pace runners, more and more of them were thanking us as they ran by. That's something that I've always done when I race (if I have the breath for it) and we all really appreciated it.

As the runners gave way to joggers gave way to walkers, I was feeling the effects of both the weather and the water duty: my arm and shoulder were very sore from extending my arm out, and my hands were shivering from the cold.

Finally, around 10:45 or so, shortly after the sumo wrestler walked by, the sweep truck came by, indicating to us that we were done providing support for the participants. We dumped the tables (with remaining filled cups) into the street, cleared up the tables and other stuff, and, as if on cue, the steady rain turned in to a TORRENTIAL downpour. Seriously, it was insane.

And as bad as conditions were at mile 7, I could not imagine having to be at mile 24: at the ocean, with even worse weather conditions, and being out there for much longer than we had to be. (not sure if the later stations work in shifts... I hope so!)

And the runners were amazing... despite the conditions, I was amazed at how many of them had such a positive attitude! As the pack started thinning out, us volunteers would start calling out people by name (if it was on their bib) to give them a boost, and it seemed to work!

Anyway, despite the miserable conditions, it was definitely fulfilling... and I highly recommend to all runners who have ever taken advantage of someone else's volunteer efforts in a race to pay it forward and do the same for someone else!
9 miles | run a mile
chapstickqueen From: chapstickqueen Date: March 24th, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
This was great to read! I love the different perspective!
sucia01 From: sucia01 Date: March 24th, 2011 09:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I worked the finish line handing out medals. The rain was brutal and the wind was something else. But I the best time, even though I was soaking wet.

I ran LA back in 2009 (when they moved it to May). It was very inspiring and I love seeing the spirit of the marathoners.

brokenheather From: brokenheather Date: March 24th, 2011 09:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
I say thank you to you too! I mentioned to dirigibles that I thought all of the volunteers were pretty badass for braving that weather - you're included!
mellyjc From: mellyjc Date: March 24th, 2011 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for sharing, and thank you for volunteering. The cheering and support really DOES make a difference and I can't imagine doing it all in the rain!
brokenheather From: brokenheather Date: March 24th, 2011 09:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Again! Thank you!

And my volunteer race report from LA from the year they decided to put the silly thing in May:

(Not that I'm not running a different marathon in May this year, but...well)
prettyblackhawk From: prettyblackhawk Date: March 25th, 2011 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)
It's so funny you mention this because I'm actually signed up to volunteer this Saturday at National - at the water station at mile 7!

It'll be my first time doing a water stop, so thanks for the input! :)
withdiamonds From: withdiamonds Date: March 25th, 2011 01:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I volunteered for the Disney marathon in 2009, and I had so much fun. Ran the half on Saturday, volunteered for the full on Sunday. It was a great weekend.
jvmatucha From: jvmatucha Date: March 25th, 2011 03:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Neat! I don't see a lot of volunteer reports in here. I was a volunteer last year for the See Jane Run half marathon:


I agree, more runners should get into volunteering. I need to do that again myself soon!
nagirrebailed From: nagirrebailed Date: March 25th, 2011 01:51 pm (UTC) (Link)
Awesome for volunteering! My husband will be so amazed to hear about Flea! Maybe if I tell him Flea runs, he'll start...
9 miles | run a mile