Sunday, October 23, 2011

Rock & Roll St. Louis Recap

**Quick reminder to see my LAST POST to enter the giveaway!!** It's for handmade running goodness!

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming:

I have always loved that I got to be part of the Inaugural Rock & Roll Chicago event. It was the first Chicago RnR and I've never had more fun running a half (read it here). I've also wanted to volunteer for a race for quite a while. So when the Rock & Roll series bought my beloved Lewis & Clark Marathon (recap here) this past year, then I got pregnant, I knew it was the perfect time for me to step up.

I volunteered Saturday from 8-1 at the expo handing out race shirts. The expo started strong right at 9 and we had a constant flow of runners come through all. Honestly, I was having an absolute blast. Joking with the runners, dancing, singing, carrying on like schoolgirls with another volunteer at my table (hooray for a new running friend!). I wanted to capture the morning somehow and loved her idea of how.
You know you've always wanted to nestle yourself in a huge bin of size L unisex tech shirts. Oh yeah.

Once our shift was over, we headed to the rest of the expo for a little shopping. I picked up some arm warmers and a new (sparkly!) non-slip head band (reviews of both to come). I'm particularly excited about the arm warmers/sleeves--purple plaid!

Sunday morning rolled around early. I was up by 5, out of the house by 5:30, and to the start area by 6. The folks at RnR had warm drinks and pastries for us while we waited for job assignments (thank you!). I was placed in the "secure area" (aka, finishers area) for the morning. This was the scene when we arrived.

We quickly got to work opening boxes of bananas, bagels, and oranges. We dumped the bananas out onto the first three tables on both sides until the piles were so high they toppled over, then started cutting oranges into quarters. I know most of you have seen finisher's areas, but the sheer volume of food purchased and in some cases handled is really incredible when you see it all at once. I was moved to a tent to hand out energy bars. It took a team of 5 of us well over an hour to get the bars unpacked and ready to hand out, but we were ready to go with time for a break before the first finishers crossed the line. During our break I got to sneak up to the finish line and check out the huge pile o' medals. The marathon medals were the same design in red.

It was a first for me to be at the finish when the winners came through. The first place female finished in 1:20 to lots of cheers. The elite runners came through slowly at first, then slowly the stream of finishers picked up and didn't let up for hours. That's when we went to work handing out the energy bars.

The good
  • Most people are incredibly gracious toward volunteers. I smiled a lot while handing out energy bars. 
  • The people who are crying in joy. By FAR the most touching moment of my day was when I saw a guy crying and asked if he was ok. He said he was, but he couldn't help it, because 18 months ago he'd weighed 300 pounds. Six months ago he'd run his first 5k. And today he'd crossed that marathon finish line for the first time. Incredible. 
  • The other volunteers were great! I told them that all the bending and constant turning at the expo had eventually been too much for the baby belly, and they wouldn't let me lift the boxes of energy bars to restock the table. And when I did anyway, they fussed at me to stop. Seriously wonderful people. 
The bad
  • Some people are jerks. This can't be helped. You say "limit 2 bars, please" and people look at you, grab 4 (or more) and walk away. Or grab 2, walk 5 steps, turn around and come back and take 2 more. Or take 2, take 2 more "for my friend I ran with" then walk to the side of the finishers' area and hand them to someone who clearly spectated and did not participate. Don't do this. There really are not enough to go around when you do this. 
  • The RnR staff was great about making sure we stayed properly hydrated, but no one told us where or when lunch was. So we were all basically starved by the time we figured it out. 
  • Thankfully we had great weather, so it was nice being out, but it is a long day on your feet. Unless you sit on the ground, there really isn't anywhere to sit down.
I got to see one of my co-workers finish, and saw my friend from the expo finish (with minutes to spare before her goal!). Around 1:45 my assigned job had come to a close and there wasn't a clear reassignment, so I decided to head out. As I left I snatched a shot of the approach to the finish. Great siting for this! Right toward the Arch (which you can barely see in this pic)--love it! I really don't ever get tired of seeing the Arch, and I see it almost every day. 

All told, I would definitely volunteer for a race again. For those of us who participate in endurance events regularly, it's only fair that we pitch in every now and then. I loved getting to see the race from this perspective, and getting to be a happy part of the day for so many runners. And if you get the chance to do a Rock & Roll event, I do recommend! 


Marlene said...

Gahh it drives me crazy when I see people being greedy with post race food. I think we have all heard a horror story or two where an event runs out before the last runners arrive. There are limits for a reason. Do you really need to do your grocery shopping at the finish line? I have seen people walk away with BUNCHES of bananas. Really?!?

Pet peeve...

Anyway, AWESOME that you were able to volunteer. Kudos to you and glad you had a great experience!! I've volunteered a few times but never at a huge race like that. I think I would love it!

TNTcoach Ken said...

Great times being a volunteer! Thanks for being there, even if I wasn't. Yeah, when folks are jerks I become a jerk.... one per person... HA!

Black Knight said...

You are very kind to volunteer. We need the volunteers at the races.
Sometimes in Italy it seems that people don't have lunch at home: they don't have limits at the post-race food. Last time at the end I didn't find the warm drink too.
About crying, I did it 2 times: my first marathon and my first half after the 2 surgeries: too much happiness.