One of the most incredible aspects of the sport of running is just how supportive the entire community is. During weekend runs outdoors, a smile or a wave indicating “hello” can certainly inspire you to keep going. During a race, runners encourage one another, ask if you are OK and continue the uplifting spirits that may be needed.
The running community goes one step further with the amazing volunteers at races. The amount of appreciation that I personally have for those that are willing to wake up at the crack of dawn to hand me water is unsurpassed. Come rain or shine, volunteers cheer you on, give you the support you need and help make the race a successful one. In my opinion, volunteers are one of the most critical assets to a positive experience during a race.
During one race, I had the opportunity to interact with a volunteer who went above and beyond for me. It had been raining at the beginning of the race, but stopped a few miles into the marathon. As I warmed up, I threw my gloves off to the side. When the rain started back up and the temperatures began to drop, my hands were so cold that I could not open my fuel pack that I needed. The volunteer saw me struggling and offered to help. Although the interaction lasted only a few seconds, it meant more to me than she will ever know.
In another instance, I could not find my family after I crossed the finish line. A kind volunteer at the food tent offered me her cell phone in order to try to get in touch with my family.
Races bring a group of strangers together that instantly become family. Runners are a unique breed and so are the people that volunteer their time at races.
For more on the Saucony 26 Strong program, which pairs up 13 coaches with 13 marathon rookies, visit 26Strong.com.