On Monday, I volunteered to help out with the Boulder Marathon (which; obviously took place in Boulder, CO). I have wanted to volunteer for a race but have either had schedule conflicts or have actually been running it. I was really impressed with the aid on and off the course last year when we ran it, so I was really excited when I saw the race was on Labor Day. Let me start out by saying that they really do take care of their volunteers and take even better care of their race marshals. For helping, we got the tech long sleeve t-shirt, the race glass, and a North Face jacket embroidered with the Boulder Marathon logo on it (super snazzy!). They also provide you with food and you get to partake in the post-race beer. Awesome!
On top of all of the cool swag, it was awesome to be on the other side of the fence during a race. It is so easy to get caught up in yourself when you are running and you forget that their might actually be people behind that floating cup as you run through an aid station. As a volunteer, I got to see firsthand that just as in racing; things do not always go as planned. Being a volunteer gave also me an opportunity to see how different people handle the challenges and joy of racing 26.2 miles. Throughout the race, I felt like I could relate with every runner at any given point on a run. Some look like they are running with ease, some are in agony, some are out having a lot of fun, others are focused, and still others are fighting so hard to resist the urge to throw in the towel.
Anyways, being able to watch as the elites come through and look effortless is almost mind blowing. It was also awesome got to hear stories from the runners, of past experiences and present endeavors (for example, one lady is trying to run a marathon in all 50 states four times). We got to see a new friend from the Trans Rockies run race in the marathon (and have a beer afterwards with him). The coolest part of the whole day was getting being at the finish line when the last runner came through, knowing that even had had just accomplished a huge feat.
Whether or not you are into running, I would highly recommend two things: 1. Run a marathon (or a race of any distance). It is such a cool feeling to cross that finish line. Oh, if you do decide to do this, give the volunteers some slack. Often, the unpredictable happens for them just as it will happen to you. 2. Support a marathon (or another such race) by volunteering or even cheering. Runners love it and cannot race without that support.
One last thing- the Boulder Marathon is a race I would recommend!