At work, we created a Live Well program and I was chosen to be part of the committee. We are responsible for creating a program that encourages employees to take better care of their physical and mental health. We've set up several events to promote better exercise habits for our employees to attend such as local 5ks. Our last event touched on the altruistic part of our program. We decided to volunteer at an aid station at the Carlsbad Marathon/Half Marathon. I was excited about this event because its one of my favorite races to run but since I couldn't run it this year, volunteering in it was the next best thing.
Due to the time commitment we asked of our employees so we didn't have a great turn-out but we did have about 20 ppl show up. We had to be in Carlsbad by 530am since the marathon start was at 6am and they could be asked to stay as late as 1230pm. We volunteered with a group called Mended Little Hearts. They were responsible for making sure they had enough volunteers for the entire race. There were quite a mixture of volunteers at this aid station - high school and college students and other adults. The aid station was situated at mile 3/23 for the marathon and 3/10 for the half marathon so we were very busy both during the beginning and ending of the race. (There were about 8500 runners in both distances) Thank goodness, they provided breakfast and lunch for the volunteers! (and they gave us some nice tshirts too!) The majority of us were stationed at the water tables, but a few of us were scattered about the mile to clean up and to make sure no cars entered onto the course. But our biggest job was to cheer for the runners! It was so inspiring to see all these people - some veteran runners, some beginner runners - finishing this great distance! I know from experience all you need to hear sometimes is that you can do it or that you're looking strong (even if you aren't) or just someone to hand you that cup of water when you just don't have any more energy to get it yourself.
We had a couple of our employees running in the half marathon as well. It was great for us to be able to be there to cheer them on! They both finished in great time! I also had a couple of my own friends running in the marathon and half marathon. I loved being there to hand them a cup of water and give them a big hug for doing so well! :)
What's even better is that the Monday after we volunteered, several of the employees who volunteered were so inspired that they wanted to run/walk some races this year. A couple of them even wanted to complete the Triple Crown Series (three specific halfs) in San Diego! It's been a few weeks since we held the event and these employees are still taking steps towards these new goals!
I haven't volunteered for a long time and I'm really sorry about that. I really should try to make an effort to do that more this year since I'm not racing (we are expecting our second child!). It really inspires me as a runner and as person not just to run but to remember why I love running so much. It can push you to do things you never thought you'd be able to do, it can calm your mind, it helps your heart and it can really show you what your fellow humans are made of.