The Sole of the City 10K is one of the major spring races hosted in Baltimore, MD. If you follow this blog regularly, you were already prepped on how to power through race day like a pro. Before the April 8th race, I had just wrapped up my first half marathon and a 10k seemed do-able. But mentally, I felt I was not up for it. To prevent me from having major FOMO, I decided, what better way to feel inclusive than volunteer for the race. Right decision. This was my first time volunteering for a race and I thought it might get a tad bit boring to see other people run while I just stand around. How wrong was I.
Here are the top five things I realized by volunteering for a local race:
1. Runners and volunteers have fun at races – That word is always on our radars. If you don't know why, always do it for fun! I can't express how it felt to witness the excitements the runners had. Whether big or small, it was a sight to see people get so excited about running. For some, it was their first race in 2017 and for others, it was their first race ever. Getting to witness people cross the finish line, the fierceness in their eyes to run towards their goals, the dire need for water at hydration stops, the happiness to switch out their premium (awesome ones) for the right sizes and gorge on some post-race free beer - it was all a delightful sight!
2. Runner language is pretty entertaining – Standing in the outside circle for the first time, it was way too hilarious to hear runners chat. Four thousand people scrambling about to find a restroom pre-race while chatting with total strangers on hydration, how they PR’ed by 3 seconds, how chafed they were, and how many layers were shed and so on. It all feels SO normal when being within the ‘clique’, but boy we runners must be glared at for pompously announcing our race day breakfast of banana and bagel to anyone who will listen.
3. There are a lot of ways to volunteer – Little did I know, but SO much happens behind the scenes during races. Even if you think you have no interest in racing, you could still be a huge part of the running community by volunteering. Ranging from registration to packet-up, to being present at water stops, handing out food post-race or being at the finish line handing out medals, there are so many different ways to be a part of a race. Even better, switch it around! I definitely found new levels of gratitude for the volunteers at races that I ran in bad weather and yet never complained!
4. Giving back is extremely rewarding - If you've ever run a race, you know the power of a shout out from a totally random stranger. That self-confidence that was instilled in you by that someone who encouraged you and boosted your morale when the going got tough, whom you shall never forget. Imagine being that someone for so many people. Never underestimate the power in you to make a difference in another person’s day.
5. Volunteering is the perfect starting line for running - Above all, if you ever feel intimidated to join a running group (like I felt) or to join the sport of running itself, volunteering is a great way to meet runners of all arenas. And let me tell you, as a runner, we people LOVE talking about running and tricking you into getting started. There are people of such diverse running abilities in one place so you’ll never feel out of place. Chances are good that you'll find a new running buddy.
About The Author: Madhuri Manohar
Madhuri is a twenty something gal from India (on a technicality), who's lived most of her life in Oman, a small heavenly paradise of the Middle East. Baltimore aka Charm City is what she calls home now. A confused research scientist by day, in her free time, she loves exploring her creative side with some calligraphy handwriting, artwork and poetry. Her love for music is fulfilled by jamming on her harmonium (an accordian-like wind instrument) and singing her lungs out, to scare off her neighbors. She loves to catch a good book on life and philosophy and she balances it out with some heavy Netflix binge watching. Hanging out with some good friends with some good food (and with loads of coffee, of course), alongside loads of giggles is what she would call a perfect day! She started her blog Ponder 'N' Wonder to share her little knowledge on life and the world around while she still seeks answers each day, to the world within. Head over to her blog for more of such babbling.