A Thank You to Marathon and Race Volunteers!

I just ran my 90th marathon in Honolulu, Hawaii this past Sunday, which I will recap on my next blog, but first things first.  As I was reminiscing about the race while walking (hobbling) through the finishers’ area, and also thinking about it on my walk (crawl) back to the hotel, it hit me; marathon volunteers need a real loud shout out.

Marathon Volunteer

As runners, we simply pay our registration fee and, well, show up at the start line and run the marathon without any worry about the logistics along the way.  Our only job is to run the 26.2 miles, get through the ups and downs, joys and pains and mental roller coaster to cross the finish line and collect our finisher’s medal.  Along the way, everything is supplied to us.  It’s basically that simple–at least for us marathon runners.

The fact is, marathons just don’t magically happen.  It takes a good tireless race director and lots and lots and lots of volunteers–people that could be at home sleeping but instead chose to rise bright and early and give freely of their time to make our race better.  They show up and do whatever job they are assigned and happily perform their volunteer duty.

It really hit me on Sunday during the Honolulu Marathon.  This was a huge marathon and actually the second largest 2012 marathon in the United States, with over 25,000 runners.  I can’t even imagine how many volunteers it took to pull this together.  Every volunteer that I personally encountered was very friendly and extremely helpful, and actually seemed as into the marathon as many of as the runners were.

As the race progressed, I was giving the volunteers as much encouragement as they were giving me, and during the last 10 miles, I needed quite a bit.  When a volunteer would hand me a cold cup of water, I would in turn thank them for being there and that I truly appreciated their support.

Volunteering at a marathon is not an easy job.  I know–I’ve done it.  There are masses of people running by giving their all, and as a volunteer you do whatever it takes to accommodate their needs.  It’s really a team effort.  Volunteers will never remember you, you are just another body running by but that cup of fluid, or word of encouragement means the world to a runner.

As I crossed the finish line on Sunday, I was greeted with a smiling faced volunteer that gently put a string of puka shell beads around my neck and congratulated me for my accomplishment.  I got a little teary eyed thinking about how well I was taken care of along the Honolulu Marathon course, and felt this overwhelming feeling of gratefulness for each volunteer I personally encountered, even remembering specific volunteers at different points of the race.  As I was walking (hobbling) back to the hotel, I was even thanking every police person.

So next time you run a marathon or any race for that matter, take a moment to thank a volunteer.  Seriously, there would be no race without them.  Thank you volunteers and a huge thumbs up!  You ROCK!






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Categories: Cool Memories, Crazy Observations, Inspirational Runs, Running Related, Tribute
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  • Brian says:
    December 13, 2012 5:42 PM

    Nicely put. I try to thank as many volunteers as I can during the races. As you said, they don’t have to be there. By the way, my Dad ran the very first marathon in Hawaii. Before moving to Honolulu, the first one was called the Hawaii Marathon and it was on Maui I think. There were about 17 runners.

  • January 16, 2013 7:46 PM

    I was a race volunteer for many years before I ran a marathon and continue to volunteer today and also serve as a race director. it’s a great way to give back to the running community that is such a wonderful support in training and many other ways. The Honolulu Marathon was my second marathon that I ran while visiting my son.

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