Volunteering at races.

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Done with school? don’t need to clock anymore CIP (Community Involvement Programme) hours? Its alright, you can still volunteer at races. Race directors are always looking for volunteers, you can search the race website for volunteer recruitment, or send an email to the organisers.

Here are some tips on Volunteering at races:

Be Punctual.
Some of the smaller local races do not have a reporting time which requires you to wait throughout the night just for the morning flag-off. Hence, as volunteers, being on time is essential in making sure that the deployment to respective areas is smooth.

Give Directions.
Being a route marshall on the course, it is vital to communicate directions to the faster runners as they don’t have a pack to follow. They are counting on you to run a smooth race & not make a wrong turn. Use both your hands to signal the direction, just imagine yourself as a traffic conductor on the roads, & shout if needed.

Be Enthusiastic.
Trust me, your energy bounces back on us runners. Its hard to clap the entire time the crowd is going, but what really counts is the effort.

Having said this, I have to say I chanced on a very enthusiastic bunch of volunteers at the NDP 2013 (yes, not one or two, but the entire bunch!). It was the time to disperse the crowds after the parade, & the volunteers were probably there since early afternoon, but they had very high energy, thanking the crowd & saying goodbye as they left the floating platform. I was very impressed, & it was a ending the night on a very high note.

Cheer on the runners.
Words of encouragement really do help the runners out there. Choose phrases like “Looking Fresh!” or “Good Job/Work!” or “Well Done!” “Fantastic Effort!”. These phrases tend to work the best, as they would lift the spirits of the runners.

Avoid phrases like “Don’t give up!” or “Don’t walk!” The runners are already putting in a lot of effort, and negative words like “give up” or “walk” could be etched in their minds.

Throw some high-5s to the runners, it could just be the energy boost they need to go faster. Just be mindful not to be an obstruction to the faster runners.

Be Vocal.
Step out of your comfort zone, start talking to runners, volunteers, & members of the public. Its perfectly okay to strike up a conversation with people to ask them about their run. Matter of fact, the best feedback that you can get is from the people on the ground.

Have fun.
Volunteering at races can be fun, don’t take yourself too seriously, its a good time to mix & mingle, & its a great place to meet like-minded people. Volunteering at a race could also be a fun date to go on with your other half. Have fun at the photo booths, help yourselves to remainder bananas, just have fun!

Got a Camera? Awesome.
You can be a volunteer photographer. Best part you don’t even need to register with the organisers if you don’t wish to. Just turn up on event day & start snapping away! Once you are done, upload it to your facebook & share the love! Runners definitely appreciate the on course photographers that help capture the moments in the race.

Can Run? Be a Pacer.
Many races are starting to recruit pacers, especially the longer ones like half-marathons and full-marathons. Its common for all-ladies races to have pacers too. Be a pacer, & help others break their PB!

Get talent spotted.
Volunteering at races can open plenty of doors for you; doors that you didn’t know exist before. These are what the HR people call “hidden job markets”. Giving up your personal time to help out is a great way to showcase your skills & experience. If you perform so well even without getting a dime, chances are that you are even better when paid. You’ll never know who is at the event that day, it could be your next potential employer!

I strongly encourage you to volunteer at races, whether it is a big marathon, or a small park race, just be involved & give back to the community. Volunteering can be especially rewarding, as it gives you a deeper appreciation of what goes on behind the scenes, so the next time you lace up & run a race yourself, you’ll be more thankful to the volunteers.

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