Last weekend I volunteered with the DC Capital Striders at the Potomac River Run Marathon along the C&O Canal Path. It’s not too often I’m up before 6 a.m. for any reason other than going running, but Sunday I would just be manning the sidelines. I met up with the rest of our group at Lock 7 and helped set up the aid station. The marathoners would go out and back twice along the path so we’d see them all four times along the course. We were stocked with water, Gatorade, bananas and power bars.
The race had about 500 runners with a 7 a.m. non-competitive start and an 8 a.m. regular start. After we got things ready to go it wasn’t going to be too long before the first set of runners were coming through since the first time they’d pass us was just about 3.5 miles in. It was an overcast day and temps were in the high 40s at the start with a slight breeze – perfect for runners, but a bit chilly for us. I’m glad I packed some hand warmers that I still had on hand from when I used to teach outdoor boot camps during the winter!
I handled the water cups and doled out encouragement to as many runners going by as I could. I know how much it means to me to have some encouragement along the course, especially one without a lot of crowd support. I also knew a couple runners so it was fun getting to cheer them on as they passed by. Other than one botched water handoff to one of the faster runners during his first trip through our station, I managed not to drop or spill the water cups on anyone! Successful day if you ask me. Although if you ask the guy who I botched the handoff with, he might not agree! There was a somewhat steady stream of people after the 8 a.m. group got going and we had people coming from both sides, but it was never overwhelming. I can’t even imagine working a water stop at one of the mega races. I need to remember to say extra thank yous at the Marine Corps Marathon stops this year!
It was fun to be out there and it was really inspiring to see so many people of so many different abilities putting it all out there to finish their marathon. I love this sport!
Congrats to everyone who ran Sunday! Have you ever volunteered for a marathon? How’d it go?