I've participated in a lot of events over the last decade. Marathons, half-marathons, 10Ks, 5K, tris of all distances.
They are a ton of fun to participate in and, as race directors and organizers will tell you, a lot of work to put together.
I've also tried to do my best to "give back" by volunteering at a few events each year. I love doing it. I get a different perspective on the event, of the participants and feel like I make a difference to a runner or triathlete when I'm able to look 'em in the eye and say:
"Nice job, 5624", or
"Way to go, 623", or
"You've got this 7822".
I had my first chance to give back yesterday as a volunteer for the first Minneapolis Marathon. I worked the finish line for both the 1/2 marathon and marathon and had a blast.
It is always such a rush to see the faces of all the finishers: the people who've just run their PR beam. The one's who are doing this as "just another Sunday" cock their head as they gaze at their watches and usually give a knowing smirk. The first timers are my favorites, though. They smile from ear to ear and just look sooooo happy with themselves.
Even the folks who end up with a time that they aren't happy with are interesting to observe. Some take in the news with the grace of understanding that, for what ever reasons, the Gods of Running did not smile kindly upon them that day...
Others beat themselves up for not making the mark. You can just see their own disappointment in their eyes and posture.
The other selfish reason I like volunteering is that I leave the event re-energized and excited to be part of the running/tri communities.
So I got all revved up after the event and I was lucky to be able to meet my friends Marcia and Gary for a quick run around the lake and then our first dip in the lake.
Our first events of the summer are coming up this weekend. It was time to get in the lake for a quick feel of temps and to remember what it's like to not have lane lines.
I'm not sure any of us were expecting the lake to be THAT cold. And I mean cold! I had my wet suit on; Marcia and Gary braved the chilly water without theirs.
Maybe all the volunteers for next week's events could send a little volunteer warmth by way of New Brighton and Buffalo so all the triathletes can have a warmer swim...