I like to run. I've learned that it really isn't about where you're going, it's about the getting there - the how, the why, the who with. This blog is just a little repository for my thoughts along the way; the setbacks, the lessons learned, and the occasional triumph.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


I got an e-mail last week from the Shamrock Shuffle. It’s a big 8K race run in downtown Chicago every year. They typically get upwards of 30,000 runners and, for 6 of the last 7 years, I’ve been one of them. The e-mail was a cool little ego stroke. It was reminding me that if I sign up for this year’s race, I’ll be automatically seeded in a start corral near the front because of my past year’s performance. Despite that I still haven’t signed up. I really do love the course, which winds all over the heart of downtown Chicago. It’s just that the event itself is rather overwhelmingly large. So many runners, a heavy race entry fee – there’s even a runner expo the weekend of the race – it’s a lot for a little 8K. So, I was waffling.

And then it occurred to me: I don’t have to run it to be in it, I can work it as a volunteer! Then, as I looked at my prospective race calendar for 2010, the idea got a little bigger. I expect to run in 5 or 6 key races this year, so I will also try to work as a volunteer for the same number of events, and I will make that one of my running goals for the next 12 months, just like all the rest.

I’ve volunteered plenty of times before – at least 3 or 4 times a year the last few years – but I’ve never made it a mission like I’m doing right now. I’ll start with the Shuffle this March, and be sure to pick up a couple more of the local 10Ks and such here in town. But, I’ll also pick an Ultra somewhere in reasonable driving distance and spend a weekend out on the course at an aid station or something. And here’s the last wrinkle to my plan: I’m going to try and convince someone else to come out and volunteer with me at each of these events; if I’m good they’ll be a volunteer virgin, or even someone who’s not a runner at all.

This only makes a lot of sense. I’ve always enjoyed the atmosphere of racing. The first times I ever volunteered, it was for races that I couldn’t run, for one reason or other, but wanted to be a part of anyway. These last couple of years, rising entry fees (and lack of time) have encouraged me to race less, but now I can go back to races I used to enjoy and give back a little work instead.

Wherever you are, I encourage you to do the same. A 5K only takes a few hours on a weekend morning. Go help set up tables, hand out paper cups and cheer on your crazy neighbors!


Chris said...

McNaughton Park 50/100 in Pekin is a great place to volunteer (April 10-11). I'm not running this year, but I'll volunteer at the Heaven's Gate aid station. You are welcome there too!

GTI said...

There's a really good chance that I'll be able to take you up on that, Chris. That's a weekend I expect to have available. I was thinking about spending some day time at an aid station, then volunteering to pace a loop or two for someone in the overnight. (I owe karma some pacer duties.) I'd be honored to slum with Ye Buffalo down at McNP.

Chris said...

That's sorta my plan too--aid station during day, some pacing at night. I believe the buffalo aid station will be coordinated by Brian Kuhn.