My enthusiastic gear check buddy making sure runners would know where to drop their things.
Most runs start pretty early in the morning and the ZOOMA Annapolis race had a start time of 7 a.m. for runners of the 10K and half marathon course. This means that volunteers had to be there long before the sun was even up to ensure that water stations, information centers, parking lots, exhibitor areas, and the gear check station were set-up and ready to go when the first runners arrived at the start line.
I had volunteered to work gear check at the race as well as hand out chocolates to finishers as they arrived back at the Expo from the finish line. I woke up almost every hour to make sure I didn’t miss my 4:30 a.m. alarm and by the time I got to the Naval Academy stadium to meet my fellow volunteers I was remaining optimistic that the ominous clouds overhead would blow over.
Not having volunteered to work a race before I wasn’t sure what the flow of things would be and it turned out it couldn’t have been simpler, more organized, or run by the most patient and helpful people. The ZOOMA race is the brainchild of Brae Blackley and her calm demeanor and constant smile eased both volunteers and runners as she responded to a constant flow of questions. Her core volunteers are her friends, mother, mother-in-law, and husband as well as the many willing locals who came out to support her race whose mission is to empower women to live healthy, active, and happy lives. Continue reading
This spring I volunteered as one of three assistant coaches at Windsor Farm Elementary in Arnold, MD, for Girls on the Run. Every Tuesday and Thursday 15 third through fifth grade girls plus the coaches would meet to talk about life, confidence, making healthy choices, family, friendship, trust, self-respect, and a host of other topics designed to encourage positive emotional, social, mental, spiritual, and physical development. In short, the program teaches girls how to avoid getting stuck in “the girl box” all while training for a 5K.
Each class day had a lesson paired with a running activity in which we practiced proper form, pace, breathing, and the basics of running. When I think about the types of games and relays we played we were actually doing the type of running you’d see on any training schedule–sprints, hills, tempo runs, and race pace. Even the day we played sharks and minnows had a lesson of teamwork in it and certainly some sprinting involved! Continue reading
Every 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. Continue reading