Run For the House 2018 recap
from a volunteer perspective
Joining the committee
I’ve run the 10K at the Run For the House race for the past 5 years. It’s usually my first real race of the season, and, because it’s March in Michigan, it tends to be very cold, snowy or both. The race benefits the Ronald McDonald House of Mid-Michigan – a home away from home for families with children in the local hospital.
Last summer I was approached to join the race committee since I’ve been passionate about, and a volunteer at, the RMHMM for years and am a regular at the race. I joined with the intention of lending my support during the planning process but with the understanding that I would still be able to run the race. Well…a few months into planning it became obvious that running wasn’t going to be an option because the committee needed all the help it could get on race day.
Also, as I discovered, for many various reasons I was really the only runner on the committee. Most everyone else either worked at the RMHMM or one of the sponsoring organizations but had never run in their life. Now, do you need to be a runner to work at the registration table, secure sponsorships or hand out water? Not at all. But having a runner on the committee sure is helpful when it comes to knowing what runners like, dislike, what their habits are, what their frame of mind is, where their families will want to stand for photos, does it really matter if the course is exactly 6.2 miles, what questions they might ask on race day…you know, all those things we crazies do! To this end, I was glad to lend my advice and experience.
As we got closer to the race, I was assigned the role of Day-Of Co-Race Director/Emcee along with one of the staff members from the RMHMM. Our job was to make sure all the announcements were made, questions were answered, sponsors were happy, races started on time and all that fun logistical stuff.
While I’ve volunteered at races before, usually at a water station or as a course marshal, I had never helped organize one and be partially in charge on race day. (I do event planning as part of my job, so this is nothing new to me, but I’d never done a race before, and it comes with its own set of challenges). It’s definitely a different perspective trying to keep everything on time so the race starts when it’s supposed to, make the right announcements, ensure the police are there stopping traffic, etc. etc. In preparation for the race, the day before the event I joined a couple other committee members to mark the course (word of advice, make sure the car you’re using has an accurate odometer…just sayin’!).
The committee arrived at zero dark thirty (AKA 6 a.m.) to unload the equipment truck, set everything up and be ready for racers arriving by 8 a.m. It was only 20 degrees at 6 a.m. – and I was in all the layers. I mean All. The. Layers! Tights, 3 long sleeve shirts, Skirt Sports Tough Girl Pants, Toasty Cheeks Skirt, and Toasty Vest, volunteer t-shirt (XL to wear over all the layers!), winter coat, boots, hat, buff, gloves and of course the famous Ronald McDonald Red and White Striped Socks. (My Tough Girls plus Toasty Cheeks meant that yes, I had 2 skirts on. That was a new one for me! But at least my butt wasn’t totally freezing!)
One of my favorite parts of the morning was watching the kids’ races. We do both a kids’ sprint for the 5-and-under crowd, and a kids mile for ages 5-12. The highlight was watching Sparty (MSU’s mascot) pick up one of the toddlers and run to the finish line with him – so adorable!! Other mascots on hand were Marshall Molar (Delta Dental’s mascot) and Swift (from Independent Bank). They did a great job running with the kids and taking pictures with everyone. Mascots bring a layer of much-needed energy to an event!
Overall the event went smoothly. A few minor things as always, but the sun was shining, it wasn’t snowing or sleeting, it was a great turnout, all the races started on time, and everyone seemed happy. My emceeing debut was successful and before I knew it, I had a chance to take a breath and realized the parking lot was empty! Somewhere between troubleshooting finishing times, handing out awards and chatting with friends, 850 racers had left! The committee finished cleaning up and by 12:30 p.m. we were headed off to a local restaurant to celebrate.
I really enjoy community service and volunteering and I was glad to give my time to such a worthwhile cause. Also, it felt great to give back to the running community. Having now been on the other side of a race, I will have an even better appreciation of races I attend, including the months of work that goes into them and the treatment of the volunteers. (See my next blog post for more thoughts on that.)
I’m looking forward to next year, and am already planning to serve on the committee again. Hope to see you out there!
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