Saturday, February 15, 2014

Volunteering at the Houston Marathon

Last year running the Houston Marathon was great, but this year I knew I wouldn't be running in it, so I decided to volunteer!  I had several friends doing both the marathon and half marathon, but more on the half marathon.  I felt more led to volunteer on the marathon course though, since the volunteers really helped me last year when I was at the end of my rope on mile 20.

I was able to sign up early (I think back in November) for the mile 21.5 water station.  We had to be there at 7 am to set up the station, but I ended up being there at 6:45 am since I didn't know what the traffic and road closures would be like.

At first I thought I would be the only person (besides the captain's) over 21, but then some mom's came and we became friends!  There were two groups of students that were volunteering with us for volunteer hours.  I would say there were about 40-50 of us.

They gave us all free t-shirts to wear on the course and if you signed up early enough, you could get a free rain jacket as well (didn't get a pic of it).

We set up the water stations with cups of water that were stacked 4 deep.  Would would fill up the water on the table, add a piece of cardboard, and then add more cups.

We were ready to go by the time the top finishers came by.  The men seemed like they were waaaaay ahead of the women, but it was probably about 5-10 minutes.  I didn't count the time difference though.  Both the top men and women groups had a police escort and video escort filming the race.  It was pretty cool!

Then the masses came!  We were handing out tons of water, I think the captain said over 20,000 gallons!  What's funny/gross is that the water they were giving out came straight out of the fire hydrant!  Yep!  We lined trash cans with restaurant trash bags and filled them up with fire hydrant water.  We were handing the cups out when I realized that they were having to walk a long way to get them so I stayed behind the table to manage the layers of cups.  Once a layer of water cups were almost all gone, I would move them down and remove the cardboard.  Everyone was thanking me for looking ahead and doing that so they could focus on handing out the water, otherwise they would have to do that plus hand out the water and it was too much with the large crowds.  I know it sounds kind of dumb (typing it does, LOL), but they honestly were so happy that they could be more efficient. There were also a few cups that weren't filled all the way, and I would fill them to the correct level so they wouldn't have to do it.

I only saw one friend (way to go Debra for your Boston qualification!!) on the course, but I missed about 4 others! :/  That's ok because I was able to encourage lots of people by saying their name and cheering for them!! I even gave two hugs to random strangers that looked like they needed it.  I said, "You look like you need a hug" and they both said yes. LOL.  I'm glad I could encourage them and everyone else! :)

At the end of the race, the trucks came by to pick up stuff and let us know we could clean up.  They made people get off the course and walk along the side walk since they wouldn't be finishing in time.  It was so sad!!  These poor people made it to mile 21.5 and were forced to get off the course, they walked with their heads down and looked so defeated.  I felt so bad for them.

After we were free to go, I went out to lunch with Krista and her mom Ginger.  Who celebrated their 4th and 3rd half marathon finishes!!  Krista's aunt Terry was supposed to run too, but she opted out because she was sick.  It was a fun lunch and a fun day.  I had a sunburn over the next few days on my face.  Ooops!

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