The Race Volunteer Black Hole

ImageI love races – the sense of accomplishment, meeting new people…so much fun!  I also love the volunteers who donate their time to cheer and assist the millions of runners, in the millions of races. How many times were you almost at that point when you were about ready to give up and then you saw a big smile, heard a hearty handclap and exciting cheer to keep going?

Where do those awesome volunteers come from? How do they get picked? I don’t know, maybe it’s me. I’ve signed up to volunteer for at least five races. I visited their website, filled in the requested information, hit submit and then patiently waited…and waited…and waited. I don’t want to name races, because even though no one contacted me, I’m not trying to bash any of the events. I’m also trying not to take it personally, but when you offer to volunteer your time and no one seems interested, it’s hard not to get that “what’s wrong with me” feeling.

Where do the applications go? I know many job seekers often complain of the “black hole” phenomenon. It’s sad when it happens in the volunteer world too. I remember a 5K/10K race last year. There were hardly any volunteers, despite the many pleas for help they sent out. The race was so short-staffed, in fact, there was no one at the one water table so we had to stop and pour warm water out of jugs. Nor was there anyone to help direct us through a confusing course. The lack of volunteers was so bad, people who had signed up to run the 10K, actually stopped running at the 5!

I know that race planners have a difficult time.  There are probably many volunteers who don’t bother to show up for whatever reason. I, however, would love to volunteer at a race. I guess I’ll figure it out one day…haven’t been able to yet, but I’m confident one day the mystery of becoming a race volunteer will unlock for me. Until then many, many thanks to the millions of volunteers who help make every race…magical.

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About diawalker

Join my journey. I’m a young-at-heart, grandma who decided to start my journey to running my first full marathon exactly a year after turning 50 years old and first 5K. I’m well on my way to earning my super-grandmother cape. I work full-time in the Human Resources field, serve as president of HRA-NCA (a local SHRM chapter), write two sites and serve as the Launch Manager for I’m also a single mom of three fantastic kids and recently became a grandmother – that’s all in my spare time. I recently decided to take up running. Join me on my journey as I prepare to run a half marathon.

Posted on April 21, 2014, in Marathons and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Don’t give up! I totally agree about the importance of race volunteers. The quality of or lack of them absolutely impacts a race. I know of a few large races where volunteers signed up and then didn’t bother to show. Hence, empty water stations or overwhelmed volunteers trying to make up the slack. I also think some of the volunteer coordinators get a little overwhelmed… You might try contacting the race via their facebook page.

    See you at the races!


    • I ended sending an email to the generic email address and got a very nice reply…a real email saying that I would get an email the next day. :-) I’m in the system as a volunteer – hopefully I will get the details today. See ya’ Friday!


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