Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Inside Scoop of Volunteering at a Road Race

Over the past 10 years, I’ve run in a variety of races – from fun runs to half marathons. I was always amazed at the number of volunteers who came out to operate the event and cater to runners. For big events, like the Peachtree Road Race, hundreds of helpers are needed. I decided it was finally time to get a different experience from a road race by serving as a volunteer.

The Fall Five was a new 5K race in my neighborhood that benefitted a local school. I’ve helped manage large-scale events for my company, but I figured there was a lot I could learn by volunteering at a local road race.

As with any event, there are many details to coordinate – like a web site and online registration, traffic cones to mark the route, signs to alert neighbors who live along the route, along with safety pins for race numbers and food and water for runners. On top of that, you also have to deal with the weather. Atlanta has seen rain all week and Saturday was no exception for the race. Runners found shelter at Navo Church as they waited for the race to start – a nice offering that most running events can’t easily provide.

I tried to help out wherever I could. Since I’m not the quiet type, I landed the job of race announcer. This meant I got to talk a lot on a bullhorn, which was fun. Along with starting the race, I also cheered the runners as they neared the finish line. I got a glimpse of what it meant to be a race director. You’re the person that everyone looks for to make decisions and keep the show running. It’s a tough, demanding job that requires a lot of dedication. While I’m not looking to lead a race anytime soon, I plan to look for more opportunities to volunteer. It’s a worthwhile experience for every runner.

This week’s running route is the course from the Fall Five. A map of the course is available at

· Start at the corner of Oakview Rd and Spring St.
· Head north on Oakview, towards East Lake Dr.
· Cross East Lake Dr.
· From Oakview, turn right on Adams St.
· Turn right on Hill St.
· Turn left on McKoy St.
· Run through McKoy Park
· Exit McKoy Park and turn right on Spring St.
· Turn left on Oakview Rd.
· Turn right on 2nd Ave.
· Turn right on 3rd Ave.
· Turn right on East Lake Dr.
· End at East Lake and Oakview

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