It seems like my July post is generally about our volunteers. We are a bit over half way through our season and I am always so grateful at this point in the year to our strong volunteer corp and those groups that we can really rely on throughout the race season – and how difficult it can be when a ball is dropped.
With a small race day staff, and an even smaller FT staff, our volunteer groups are our Faces of the Rhode Races that you interact with the most on your race day – and they can make or break our race. It can be tough to find good ones – groups that will show up (most importantly!!!), stay for the entire time, be consistently encouraging and supportive from the first runner to the last, and will clean up the course to our standards. These all seem like small things, but finding these groups has been our biggest challenge. We receive plenty of good intentions and offers to help, but sometimes the execution doesn’t happen the way it should.
The volunteers on race day can often have a tougher day than the runners. They have to stand in the weather elements – extreme heat or cold and rain without the ability to run to get warm. They arrive well before our first runner and stay until the last. And they have to be happy and supportive throughout the duration! 🙂
There are those groups that we can consistently count on – our “A team” of volunteers. For example, our Bristol race was our entire A-Team! The Rhode Island Rhode Runners are our biggest asset. Not only do they provide the best LOCAL pace team around, but they man many of our aid stations. At their core, they are built to support running in the state so many of our participants have become members and many members run our races. This creates a bigger running community, and we are all better for it as that is our ultimate goal. Nels Johnson does an incredible job managing all of our pace team leaders and the aid station captains of Mary Ann Donato, Cee Vallee, MaryAnn Donato and Pat Lachance are infinitely organized.
But there are two more groups that are our most valuable – Portsmouth High School XC/Track & Field and Mt Hope HS Lacrosse. These two groups often take multiple volunteer spots, ALWAYS show up with the right amount of volunteers, stay to the bitter end, and we can always count on them. These groups are lead by Shawn Horgan of Portsmouth and Jay Spina of Mt Hope – these coaches are dedicated to their team, their athletes and to us. We are grateful to have them in our lives and we thank them.
We all know the value of great volunteers and they can certainly make or break our race day. We recognize we have had a few issues with volunteer groups this year, and it has caused some problems. We will continue to develop a high caliber of groups that we can consistently rely on for our race day needs. In order to continue to foster a great volunteer corp and provide you with a top notch race day, we ask that our participants are also respectful racers. Here are some tips –
- Finish within the allotted course time and/or request an early start.
- Drop cups/gel packets/trash as close to an aid station as possible or at mile markers and signs so we can see it and clean it up at the end of the race.
- Thank our volunteers or let them know politely what you are in need of
And if you know of any super fun but RELIABLE volunteer groups looking to earn some money – send them our way!!!!