My wedding anniversary is September 25th. So, even though I’m on the board for ORRC and a volunteer Race Director for one of it’s events (The Hagg Mud 25k/50k), I have never been to their Best Dam Run 10k. It’s always my wedding anniversary weekend, so I’m always in Newport, Astoria, Bend, or some other equally wonderful place. However, this year, my husband and daughter were in Kansas for his grandfather’s funeral, so I got a chance to help out.
Normally, I’d also have run this race – it’s very easy to volunteer at this race AND run – but at 16 weeks pregnant and just starting to get over the nausea, my max is three miles. But there were a number of my fellow volunteers who boarded the last bus and then ran their race.
If you’re a frequent race volunteer, you probably know where this is going. But if it’s been a while since you arrived before the finish line was set up, here’s a little reminder of why volunteers run this community!
First of all, ORRC is a volunteer organization. Aside fro one part time office coordinator, who helps with volunteer recruitment and tasks like obtaining permits, all of the work is done by volunteers. I put in countless hours planning and preparing for the Hagg Mud Runs, and spend about 24 hours at the lake or doing tasks like shopping and washing dishes for our race over the two days of our race; and I don’t get paid for it.
There are hundreds of other volunteer-run events in Oregon and SW Washington – events that the organizers create and manage purely because they care. Great events, like the Ladybug Run, Cause + Event, and the Valentine’s Fanconi Anemia Run, are all put on by people who will have no financial gain from their work. There are also a number of amazing small events – look at all the ORRC, CGRC, CCRC, and WVRR club events – and you’ll find dedicated volunteers putting on low-cost races for the runners and walkers in our community.
At the ORRC Best Dam Run, I got to work with registration volunteer extraordinaire Diane Bemrose. Now retired, she handles mail-in registration for all of ORRC’s events and makes sure registration forms are shipped to all local running stores. She also works at every race the club puts on, unless she’s in Disneyland with her family – that’s a good reason to miss a race!
We were supported by a number of younger volunteers; our runners for the registration table were an 11-year-old named Devon (I think!) and a 13-year-old named Lance. These kids were AWESOME. Their jobs were to run day of race registration forms to the timer and to grab the right shirt size for participants signing up or buying a shirt that day. They were part of a crew of at least 15 kids, led by a no-nonsense woman named Kim who never once grew impatient with her helpers.
It was so impressive to see the way the kids would finish one task and then immediately return to an adult to ask what they could help with next. (By the way, Kim’s crew is always looking for volunteering gigs in exchange for donations to youth athletics programs. If you want to get in touch with her, email us at email@example.com and we’ll put you in touch.)
Another fun perk of volunteering is seeing all the runners and walkers you know or at least recognize. Run Oregon bloggers Joe Dudman and Michael Allen were there, as were a number of other friendly faces I can always count on seeing at races. Even if I don’t remember everyone’s names, it’s easy to catch up because we have at least one thing in common – supporting local events!
I also love volunteering because it’s a different venue for pushing myself. Volunteers get to make any number of decisions which can help runners and walkers have a better day. On Saturday, I helped runners secure a bib when their name wasn’t on the pre-registration list but they had a receipt on their phone, and delivered participant donations to the Red Cross and local food bank collection areas. Nothing huge, but I was able to help people have a slightly better day; and hearing “thank you” made it all worth it. It’s the fast pace that makes it a fun challenge!
The ORRC Best Dam Run is a point-to-point race, with participants bused from the Estacada City Hall to the start line. I actually left before the first finisher was within sight – another great thing about volunteering. You can go straight from the race to running errands without needing a shower or a change of shorts. I was able to run all my errands and get home in time for a late lunch.
The next time you’ve got a free weekend on your calendar, please consider volunteering for a non-profit or volunteer-run event. All you need are a pair of comfy shoes and a positive attitude!
P.S. If you’d like to volunteer for me at the ORRC Hagg Lake Mud Runs – when I’ll be eight months pregnant – please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll send you a link to our volunteer sign up form as soon as it’s ready! Our volunteers get $5 in ORRC bucks, a $5 Safeway card (which you can use for gas!), and a race beanie. We need about 70 volunteers over the two days and your support is most appreciated!