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My Day as a Chicago Marathon Volunteer

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Randy E
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My Day as a Chicago Marathon Volunteer Empty My Day as a Chicago Marathon Volunteer

Post  scottk Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:14 pm

Since I'm wasn't running Chicago this year, I decided I'd do the next best thing and volunteer. Responded on the race's website, and was given the choice of deciding on which shift I wanted, I opted for the early one, from 4:45 - 9:30 AM. I figured this would give me the chance to get the work done and then see the elites finish. The email back from the Marathon office told me I would be assigned to the open corrals.

Race day, up at 3:00 AM, showered and out of the house at 3:30, downtown and walking into the volunteer base camp at 4:30. And it's quite a set up, a 5 step process: 1. Check in, 2. pick up sweet Nike blue Nike running jacket (if you ran you saw plenty) and a blue cotton baseball hat. 3. in for a quick banana and water at the food area 4. was bag check, but I didn't have anything to check 5. meet your team leader. I ended up with the 11 minute pace corral.

We headed out to the start around 6, about 18 of us. 3 large 11:00 lollipops, one at each entrance and one at the front of the corral. the entrances were manned by 2 people. The remainder of us stretched a yellow rope all the way across Columbus. I took the far right (east) end, which allowed me to spend the 90 minutes answering questions from runners. "Where's bag check" and "How do I get in there" were the 2 most common questions.

The corrals were way crowded, and many had to wait outside at the start. I reassured many that the would, in fact, get to run, even though they couldn't get in the overflowing corral. After things stated moving, we helped those outside get in, and walked forward with the runners. Once near the front, we exited stage right.

I've never been at the start after all the runners leave, and I saw a few interesting things:

• One lady showed up after everyone had left. She promptly began a 2 minute stretching routine, before finally getting out on the course.
• Another woman showed up late and took off fast to catch the back of the pack. Unfortunately she dropped a gel, stopped, went back and got it, then took off again
• A group of about 8 very fit people came through just after 8, they were doing a 100 miler, with the marathon the final 26.2 of their run. They did not look like they had already run 73.8 miles!

It's amazing how quickly the start gets taken down. People came through picking up garbage and discarded clothes. By about 8:30, the street was clean and the fences were coming down. I headed back to the volunteer compound where they released us, got something more to drink, and headed out to Roosevelt and Michigan., where I stayed to see the 1st 5 men come through.

It was a really enjoyable day, almost as much fun as running the race.
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Post  Michele "1L" Keane Mon Oct 10, 2011 7:16 pm

Lots of fun, isn't it? I'm volunteering at the Atlanta Marathon on the 23rd and I have volunteered at Boston in the past - it's quite rewarding.
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Post  Julie Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:00 pm

That is amazing about the 100 milers. Thanks for volunteering. I volunteered for some shorter races before (a 1 miler and a 10K) I remember the fast 1 milers dripping sweat on me when I took their chips off. Sounds like a great experience!
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Post  Bob Mon Oct 10, 2011 8:07 pm

Good job, Scott.
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Post  Jerry Tue Oct 11, 2011 6:42 am

Cool experience, Scott!
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Post  Alex Kubacki Tue Oct 11, 2011 7:26 am

Seems like it was a nice experience for you.
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Post  mountandog Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:44 am

I love the volunteers. The race depends upon them. Thanks for donating your time.
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Post  GregC Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:52 am

I've come to truly appreciate the thousands of volunteers at Chicago during my years running it. Thanks for doing it Scott.
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Post  Jim fredericks Sat Oct 15, 2011 6:41 am

Sounds like a fun experience that I would like to try someday. I can't help but think that if the corrals are too crowded to get every runner in then they need to get bigger corrals or have fewer runners.
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Post  Randy E Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:38 am

Scott, thanks for volunteering. Without volunteers all of our races would not be as great as they are. I wonder what some of those interesting things you saw after all had left the start.
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Post  carleenp Sat Oct 15, 2011 4:16 pm

I volunteered last year as a start area guide. I got to stand on the street with maps and point people in the right direction. I saw some late arriving people that year too. This year, I worked at aid station one. It is a neat experience being on the other side of things, although I could do without the getting up at 3:15am part of it! I figure I'll keep volunteering any year that I am not running the race.
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Post  Dave-O Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:07 pm

Thanks for the helping hand. Did you get to see the winners come though?
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Post  Pete B Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:55 am

Scott - Thanks for volunteering!!

In 2009 I volunteered for the starting line duties (as I was then training for my first marathon) and lucked out holding the rope separating the Elite Corral from Corral A.

The last three years I have also volunteered at the Expo on Friday afternoon each year - It is a very rewarding experience and everyone should volunteer sometime.

Thanks again for being one of the 10,000 volunteers.
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Post  Jim Lentz Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:03 am

Thank you Scott!
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