This year, I’ve said I wanted to give back more to the running community. Every time I line up at the start line, I know all along the course are going to be some amazing volunteers helping every single runner. Whether it’s handing out water, medical volunteers, or the volunteers at the end handing out your medal, a race can’t be done without the many volunteers. I’ve actually been to races where volunteers don’t show up and runners are without a water stop. Volunteers are so clutch to making a race go on. Plus, their energy out there on race day is what so many people need.
As the Liberty Mile drew near, I knew I didn’t want to run it this year. I’ve struggled all summer with any speed, so why try at a mile right now? I’ve loved this race though, so I thought if I didn’t run it this year, this would be an amazing opportunity for me to give back and volunteer. I signed up to be a finish line volunteer from 6-9pm. This gave me time to get downtown after work as with the road closures and general Friday rush hour, it can create quite the cluster down there.
Signing up to volunteer was very easy. There were a few options for before the race and then even more options on race day. I ended up getting downtown around 5:15pm and grabbed a quick dinner before heading over to Market Square to check in and pick up my volunteer shirt. The volunteer shirt ended up being the same as the shirt runners got. I’ve seen in the past that it’s a separate volunteer shirt. The design was nice and one I’d wear again for sure!
I went down to the finish line area at 6pm. We couldn’t do much until the roads actually closed about 15 minutes later, but the P3R team was already pulling things out and they were ready to go. Once we were given the all clear, it was amazing to see how one of the major streets downtown transformed into the finish line of the Liberty Mile in about 35 minutes. There were about 25 volunteers and maybe about 7-8 P3R staff. I think they were so used to what to do, I felt like the volunteers were just standing at times. Finally, I just jumped in and started following one of the P3R guys to help at whatever he needed done. Finally after a few minutes, I finally felt like I was doing something and actually helping out.
By 7pm, the finish line was ready for the first heat. There were 5 heats of races over an hour and with an impending storm, I think all were worried about races being cancelled. We ended up lucking out though and during the race only had drizzling at times.
At the finish line, certain volunteers were handing out bottles of water, bananas and then little cups of water. I ended up going to the first table of water which was also closest to the finish line. This way I had the best views. As each heat finished, it was interesting to see how each group reacted to the volunteers. The One for Fun heat with the Kids of Steel and Pup Trot was probably the most willing to take the water and to just say thank you. As we got into the faster heats, you started to see less and less people coming for water and less and less thank yous.
For the Pro heats, I actually went up closer to the finish line to watch. And what finishes they were! It was amazing to be in the action for those finishes. I’ve always watched the pro races from the other side of the finish line, so this was a fun experience.
If set-up took about 35-45m, then break down took all of about 15 minutes. As the last race ended and items were being broken down, the big rain drops were starting to come in. At this point, the goal wasn’t how neatly we were putting things away, but just that things were back in the trucks. I noticed most volunteers had left, so I am glad I stuck it out to help clean up. I was out of there by 8:20pm and on my way home. I really loved helping out at the finish line that night. It was easy and honestly just a fun way to spend a Friday night. Hopefully I’ll be able to volunteer again at another upcoming race!