Planting the Volunteer Seed

logo_standardEvery time I do a run I am forever grateful to the volunteers who line the course at the water stops, the start and finish line, the packet pick-up, the gear check–they seem to be everywhere. I’ve never really stopped long enough to think about where all the volunteers come from, or what happens behind the scenes of a race, but I know it’s a lot of work no matter the size of the race. In March I met the organizers of the ZOOMA Women’s Race Series and realized my opportunity to learn more about how a successful race comes together as well as what it means to volunteer, rather than run, a race.

On May 31st, hundreds of women (and men) will line up to run either the ZOOMA 10K or half marathon in Annapolis. This is peak tourism season and the town will be buzzing with out-of-towners, boaters, history buffs, shoppers, dog walkers, and hordes of other people who are drawn to our waterfront town every spring. The addition of a busy tourism season to the many details of organizing, moving, and communicating to hundreds of runners no doubt presents challenges to the ZOOMA race organizers, which is where volunteers come into the picture.

When I mentioned to Nathalie Lavine, event coordinator for ZOOMA that I would be interested in volunteering she thanked me and said she’d be in touch closer to the event. Since March we have been in touch on a regular basis by both phone and email talking about the various volunteer work that needs to be done for the event. I have been working to round up additional volunteers to join me bright and early on May 31st where I will be volunteering at the gear check station. The Girls on the Run group that I assistant coached this spring will be working at least one of the water stops and I will also be helping with packet pick-up at our local Fleet Feet store in Annapolis prior to the race.

Knowing that I am donating my time to make the event a better experience for those running in it has me just as pumped and excited as if I were running myself. Part of what has made this such an enjoyable experience already is the personal interaction I’ve had with the ZOOMA team who are genuinely thankful for their volunteers and enthusiastic about the race. Their race helps empower women to reach their running goals which is something I’m only too happy to help support.

It’s not too late to volunteer. If you’re interested, just send an email to and let Nathalie know you’d like to donate your time to make the ZOOMA Annapolis run a smooth and successful experience for the runners as well as the town. I’m sure she’ll put you to work.

If you’re a runner and you’re not signed up for ZOOMA, this is your chance to give back and put yourself on the other side of the course. The other runners will thank you!

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