This past weekend, Dr. McNeill and I volunteered at one of the medical tents along the the Naperville Marathon course. What I learned as a volunteer made me stop and think and appreciate what goes into a race!
- Volunteers make all these races happen. Yes, you and I know that a race will go on as planned, however I never realized that they could never happen without volunteers. And a simple "thanks for coming out" from the runners passing by made my day, because they realize without us, they could not run this race. In the medical tent, we had great ER nurses and techs right along side of us.
-WTF? (It's not what you think...) This made me laugh! Two different runners had this phrase printed on their shirts. One meaning was "Who's The Fastest?" and the other meaning was "Where's The Finish?" Two perfectly great phrases that stirs up conversation and cheering when they run by.
-Never say, "You're almost there!" to a runner. EVER. Because to a spectator, 13 miles out of 26 may be "almost there" but to the runner, it may be an eternity. You as a spectator or volunteer are supposed to be cheering and encoraging, and that phrase may be demoralizing if not taken in the right context!
Runners come in all types. The elite/fastest runners were the most inspirational, while the senior runners ran by and some made it look as easy as a walk in the park. The mother/daughter or father/daughter teams were touching, as the children were the ones encouraging their parents just as the parents encouraged an nurtured their children their whole lives. The most touching was a husband pushing his wife in a racing wheelchair as he ran to raise funds for ALS.
I have often been on the running side of the race, but being on the volunteering side is just as satisfying.