“Volunteering for a race is an expression of gratitude.”
Today I volunteered at the start line for the BMO Vancouver Marathon, 2017. Needless to say, “Wow, what an amazing experience!”
As you may remember, I was forced to pull out of the Vancouver Marathon due to illness. That was one of the most difficult decisions I have made as a runner. As race day approached, I was unsure how I would feel seeing all the people I know running the race. Would I experience a sense of regret, nostalgia, or even failure?
I am happy to report that I experienced none of those emotions, not even in the slightest. In fact, I walked away feeling the absolute opposite – My relationship with the running community is by far richer having volunteered.
How Do I Register as a Volunteer?
Anyone can register as a volunteer for the BMO Vancouver Marathon. I registered through the “deferral program,” an option for runners that want to postpone their race to the following year, due to illness or injury. Deferred runners, upon approval, are asked to volunteer at the start line. You then have the opportunity to register again at a reduced rate (50%).
Are You Required to Attend Training?
Yes! But seriously, you are not asked to do any other pre-race activities! As race day approaches, volunteers attend a short orientation, followed by a series of informative emails from their newly assigned team captains.
Team Captains Rock!
All volunteers for the BMO Vancouver Marathon are assigned a well experienced team captain, who provides leadership regarding the tasks you will be doing at the event. I found the team captains to be very welcoming, motivating, and upbeat. I never felt lost or under utilized. Many have experience themselves as runners, others simply love the energy of the RunVan community.
What are the Volunteer Assignments?
Assignment opportunities for volunteers are diverse, having something available for every personality and experience level. Several folks I worked with had also volunteered at the Health and Sports Expo the day before. The Expo is where runners pick-up bibs and race bling, weaving through sponsors and vendors alike, promoting the latest running gadgets and gear. Volunteers help answer questions, hand-out gear bags, and register new runners.
As a deferral runner, I was assigned to work at the start line between 5am and 10:30am. You finish early enough to get home and take a nap! Even better, I was assigned to the first corral where the elites and fastest runners commingle. This made for an absolutely amazing experience.
On race day, runners channel a complicated mixture of anxiety, fear, excitement, and enthusiasm. That energy smacks you square in the chest as each corral counts down to the starting horn. It is both exhilarating and exhausting, even mildly addicting!
— Susie Shin (@Susie4BMO) May 5, 2017
Why Every Runner Should Volunteer
I am convinced that volunteering for a big race event makes you feel part of something much bigger than yourself. I left my assignment feeling a sense of belonging, solidifying my identity as an athlete. Those feelings run far deeper that I expected.
Every runner should volunteer for a race. Vancouver has dozens of opportunities throughout the year, including obstacle courses, road and trail races. There are opportunities to fit every style of runner. If you are needing an injection of positive energy, and want to be surrounded by people pushing personal limits to accomplish hard-fought for dreams, then sign-up as a happy helper today. You will not regret it!