Sunday, June 3, 2018

Volunteering and "Volunteering": Civilian Running Events versus Military Running Formations

  The other week, I volunteered for the South Carolina Governor’s Cup race.  This is the second time this year I’ve volunteered to help out for a racing event, but it got me thinking about the differences between a military organized run and a civilian racing event.  

  With both, there’s a lot of coordination across multiple entities.  You have to get with the local law enforcement and road officials to ensure the proper routes are closed off to traffic.  If there is a major intersection anywhere along the course, both events need to have someone with authority out there to direct traffic during the lengthy gaps of runners.  Both events also require a lot of work at the start/finish areas and that includes having people telling the participants where to go, where they can’t stand, and to help corral people to the correct designated areas.  

  Of course, the biggest difference between the two is I have never seen a water station on a military route, but I covered that in an earlier post.  

  For the Governor Cup Race, I helped out at the awards table.  It was our responsibility to get the plaques and top three finisher’s prizes prepped and ready for presentation.  We took care of the 5k awards, the half marathon prizes, and two different sets of medals for “triple crown” participants and the state’s prestigious runners’ club. 

  It was quite a task to set up the medals, plaques, and finisher coasters in a particular order and just like the military, not everything goes according to plan. No matter how much planning, prepping, and rehearsing you do, sometimes you just have to adapt, improvise, and overcome.  I say this because while we had all the awards separated by race and in age order, the award announcements alternated between the youngest and oldest categories and worked towards the middle.  And then there was the weird static electric issue with the plaques.  While we had no issues pulling the plaques from the 5k awards, the half marathon plaques wanted to stick to the bubble wrap that encased them in their respective boxes.  That made for a slow down in presenting the awards and there was at least one woman who insisted on telling a few of my fellow volunteers on how to get the awards ready for the next set of runners.

  But the overall experience was a positive one, and unlike the military, I wasn’t told that I had to volunteer to help out with the event.  I also received more of an appreciation for those who volunteer to help organize, run, and help out with the running races. 

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