Volunteering: Cold and Smelling Vaguely Tropical
Katie and I awoke early this morning to go volunteer at the Green Mountain Marathon and Half Marathon on South Hero and Grand Isle. The weather promised to be rather miserable: barely in the 50s with strong winds and a high chance of rain. We weren’t disapointed on those facts…
We stopped by the start to get direcetions to our location: the mile 4/22 aid station. Arriving there we were greated with an assortment of helpers, though the main crew turned out to be a Cross Country team from Champlain College in Burlington—their antics were quite hilarious. Both races started simultaneously at 8:30, so we waited around for the first runners to come by.
The day turned out to be one of extremes: the weather, primarily the winds, were horrendous. All of us were freezing. I probably could have wore a heavy winter coat and still been shivering from the winds. Add to that handing off water, Gatorade, and Heed (electrolyte drink) to moving targets and your hands will be white in a matter of minutes. I was wearing mittens that now sticky and smell strongly of tropical drinks.
And yet we tried to laugh; to cheer the runners (many of whom looked miserable and wet); to put smiles on their faces any way we could. This usually took the form of generating witty and hilarious catch phrases for the particular drink we had in our hands—you have to sell it to the runners! Weather be damned we tried to have a good time and be there for the runners.
I certainly felt a need to help out after all the volunteers at the 50k shared their time and energy. Having a drink and a smile for a runner can really brighten their race (as I experienced first hand), so I was glad to be able to give back. In fact, this actually took a rather direct form of shuttling a runner back to the finish after severe cramping forced him to drop. I know how frustrating a bad day can be, so I enjoyed talking to him on the drive back and hear what might of gone wrong. I hope that he gets back out there soon and tries again—he was so close, he just needs to find out what went awry.
While our volunteer experience was over quickly I hope that we can find other races (preferably warmer ones) to volunteer at. Especially since we no longer want to run on roads, we might be able to give some of our time to those events next year. [Though, finding some trail races to volunteer at would also be pretty great…trouble is, I want to run them!]
I also want to give a big shoutout to my fellow Starbucks coffee slinger and runner Crystal who braved the cold and winds off Lake Champlain to finish the half. She came through and back with a smile on her face (in true Crystal fashion). Great job! and to paraphrase Gob Bluth: 30 mph winds?! COME ON!