A good 2012 resolution would be to get involved on the other side of the aid station table-consider volunteering for a race!
All race directors need volunteers, and cannot manage a race without the people who are giving their time on race day to direct traffic, issue bib numbers, mark trail, stuff schwag bags, mix up Gatorade and Heed, stand in the cold-or the hot sun-for hours, refilling water bottles, cajoling and scolding runners to go on with their race.
Volunteers can be found the day before the race, loading totes with aid station supplies, sorting shirts according to size, sorting Excel spreadsheets with bib numbers.
Race morning they are up early. They are sitting in the cold, checking runners in, grabbing the right size shirts, making sure runners have safety pins, answering questions about the course, where the portopotties are.
Volunteers are standing in the road at intersections, making sure runners are aware of the road crossing, motioning cars to slow down, pointing runners in the correct direction.
Volunteers are at the Aid Stations..for hours. They are cutting up sandwiches, fruit, monitoring water and Gatorade levels. They are refilling your water bottles, making sure you eat, making sure you have water. They are keeping an eye on you, assessing your condition, maybe suggesting they get the hell out of your aid station and get down the trail.
Some races now have a volunteer requirement in order to enter the race: Western States, Vermont, Wasatch, Buckeye Trail 50K.
If you are new to running, trail running, or ultras, consider volunteering. You will certainly get pumped up as you see these folks filter through your aid station.
A seasoned runner who has never volunteered? Maybe this is the time for you to sit out a race, and help on the other side of the table. See what the volunteers are doing for you.
And you bring education to the table. You know what that runner is going through on the other side, whether it be a 50K or a 100 miler.
You know what they need-salt, food, a pep talk, a "4 miles to the next AS" speech, how good they look. You know, by a look, when to suggest they sit down down in the chair for a moment to regroup and rehydrate.
You've got the knowledge of 'them' and know what they need..now help them.
NEO TC will need volunteers for the YUTC Race in September. We will be sending out an email, in the summer months, asking for some additional help. If you are not running the race, please consider putting in a few hours of volunteering. It's a little work and a whole lot of fun.