They say that those who can’t race, volunteer!
Last weekend I had the amazing opportunity to volunteer at one of the fluid stations in the TCS NYC Marathon 2018. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this experience as I have personally never even watched a marathon, let alone played a part in it. But I can truly say that this experience was both inspiring and eye-opening.
I arrived at my station at the bright and early hour of 8am (after waking up at 5:30 to catch the only bus running from NJ into New York) and was immediately thrown into a huge line of volunteers waiting to sign in. I was shocked by the number of people who had come to volunteer, at my one fluid station alone there must have been at least 100 people. However after collecting my stylish poncho and hat, it became clear why the station needed so many helping hands! We were immediately put to work filling tables with stacks of cups filled with water and Gatorade to hand out to the athletes.
It was amazing how fast we all got to know each other! I met some truly amazing people from all over the world while I was volunteering, each with their own unique reason for volunteering. One girl I met had run the race last year and wanted to give back this year by volunteering as the volunteers last year had helped her so much. Another volunteer official that I had a conversation with told me about how he had been volunteering with his wife at these marathons for 15 years, even after being diagnosed with cancer, and he loved it because it was his little way of giving back. These are truly amazing people and it was such a great experience to get to work with so many friendly people!
Once the racers started coming through it was a joy to watch and cheer them on. The first wave to reach my station were the wheelchair racers. I think one of the best parts of the day was getting to cheer these racers on as they passed the station and seeing the smile on their face as they heard our cheers and got the little pick me up that they needed to carry on. Watching the runners was truly inspirational, there were people of all ages, shapes, and abilities running this race and it was incredible to see what people can overcome when they put their minds to it.
My station was a good location to be as I was at the 23rd mile, so me and my little group got to see who the runners coming in first, second, and third place would be! It was very exciting to track the runners on the app and see them passing through the station on their final stretch. It was also fun to cheer on those runners who some of us knew personally and give everyone a little boost on their last leg. Once the first wave of runners had filtered through it really started to get more crowded. We were handing out waters left and right to the constant stream of runners coming through. Cheering on those who looked like they needed a little inspiration and keeping all the amazing runners hydrated.
I am truly grateful that I got to experience this event and help out the runners by volunteering at the fluid station. It has inspired me to maybe try a marathon myself sometime in the future! The commitment and achievements of some of these runners was truly incredible and I am so glad that I got to give my little bit back and help out at the station this year. I would highly recommend anyone who is interested to sign up to volunteer at one of these marathons in the future as I believe it is a truly rewarding and inspiring experience that everyone should try!