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Mar 22, 2023

Volunteers – A Necessity At Every Race

You’ve completed 5Ks.  You’ve completed 10Ks.  You’ve even run a half marathon and completed a full marathon.

Have you ever volunteered at a race?  It takes heart, strength, and endurance to complete a race.  It takes heart, strength, compassion, and love to volunteer.

There are many reasons why you should volunteer if you’ve never done so.  There are also many benefits to volunteering as well.

When you participate in a race, your concentration is on you.  You are concerned about your pace, your time, your overall performance, and possibly concerned about not injuring yourself after the long hours of training.  Your focus is on yourself.

An alarming statistic holds true.  There are runners in almost every running community who have been runners for years and have never volunteered at a race.

Why is this fact even a statistic?  For one, volunteering in most groups has not been seen as an attractive activity.  Volunteering can come with a stigma that volunteers work so hard and are not recognized.    This depends on the race organizers to make sure their volunteers are recognized, treated well during their volunteer time period and, of course, thanked with gifts of love.

Volunteering at a race is definitely one way to witness different styles of runners/walkers.  You may also get a personal story of why someone is volunteering instead of running.  Personal stories make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and help you appreciate your health status.  Some people volunteer because they can no longer pound the pavement due to osteo this and arthritis, or some other health issue.

Volunteering gives you an opportunity to give back.  Whether you are cheering on participants at Mile Marker 5, or handing out water cups at Mile 9, you are giving back is noticed and appreciated, and NEEDED!

Just like when running or watching a race, there will be someone who makes your jaw drop and leaves you inspired!  Volunteering lets you take in all of the inspiring moments and persons.  If you are actually participating in the race, as mentioned earlier, the focus is on you, so you are likely to not get the opportunity to witness these inspiring stories!

Following are three quotes from recent volunteers at the PUBLIX Half & Full Marathon in Atlanta, Georgia.  These three ladies are members of the Fairburn, Georgia Black Girls RUN! Group.

“The energy that the race participants exuded gave us as volunteers more energy to give back to them.  We were excited to see them not quitting on themselves.  I am even more pumped to complete my first full marathon in 2024.”  ~ Cana Johnson

“It really doesn’t matter in what capacity you participate, it all works for the greater good.  An amazing experience.”  ~  Jennifer Jackson-Booker

“I could see the effects of my encouragement on the faces of every racer as they approached the Finish Line.  Volunteering is an amazing experience.  I would love to support again and the overall experience was unmatched.”  ~ Kimela Johnson

Volunteering can be fun.  Signing up to volunteer with a group of friends makes it even better.  Whether you and your friends share cheering together at a Cheer Station or at the Finish Line, passing out water cups, or offering high-five hand slaps at Mile Marker 10, the energy is an experience every runner in the fun community should experience at least once.

There are health benefits to volunteering as well!  We will discuss those in a future article.  Until then, sign up to volunteer, and get your cheer on!

By: Eden Barbee-Mabry / (@gardenonthegram – IG/ @EdenJBe – Twitter)
Eden Barbee-Mabry is an Education Support Analyst with the State of Georgia. Eden is a native of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and was led to relocate to Atlanta, Georgia after graduating from Clark Atlanta University in 1988. Eden joined Black Girls Run! in the Spring of 2016 and graduated from the Walk B4 You Run program in June of 2016 and is currently Run Lead for the Fairburn, Georgia group. Eden is a purse lover and strives to inspire every woman because her belief is that although the circumstances may be different, every woman can extract strength from another woman’s story.