Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2013 Goodlife Victoria Marathon - Race Recap, Volunteer Edition

Best weekend ever.  I always thought that the race organizers for the Goodlife Victoria were brilliant to schedule the race on the Thanksgiving long weekend, but this weekend Thanksgiving Day took on a whole new meaning for me.

Race weekend events kicked off for us with a fundraiser on Friday night for a running group called Every Step Counts, a walking and running program designed for people experiencing challenges or barriers with housing, mental health, poverty, addiction and other related issues.  I'd heard about this group a few years ago and thought wow...I know what running has done for me and how it's made a significant impact on my life, so I wanted to throw my full support behind this group.  This was our first time attending this fundraiser and it was a great evening.  Keynote speaker...

OK, you probably can't see clearly who it is, but it's Dick Beardsley...yep, that Dick Beardsley of the 1982 Boston Marathon Duel in the Sun fame.  He was an amazing speaker...after his famous run against Alberto Salazar, he had a series of unfortunate accidents and ended up becoming addicted to prescription drugs.  Clean for years, his story was inspiring to everyone, but particularly for those in the group struggling with addictions. 

There was a live and silent auction at the event as well...what, I get to eat and shop?!  My kind of fundraiser!  I ended up bidding on a Global knife and sharpener and some gift certificates to a restaurant.  What can I say, I'm a foodie.

Saturday morning I headed down to the race expo to listen to some of the speakers and then trotted down to the finish line to start my first volunteer shift of the weekend.  OK...just gonna say that I am super happy that I've been working with weights because it was four hours of setting up fencing and signage.  I made the mistake of doing some upper body strength work that morning, so needless to say, by the end of my shift I was one tired, sore and hungry girl.

my handiwork...

signs, signs and more signs...

slowly but surely, it's coming along...

I deserve every single calorie on this plate!!!

Sunday...the day I've been waiting for all year!  I've been so excited for this, and was so stoked when I headed down to the finish line that morning.  As soon as I got to the medal area, I was put to work checking and sorting the medals. It was a beautiful, beautiful day and there were tons of spectators lining the finishers chute.

lookit them all!

After we sorted them, we had to hang them on the racks so we could load them onto the arms of the people who were handing them out...we were like a well oiled machine!  As we worked, I got to know some of the other volunteers and made some quick friends. 

medal me, baby!

After we finished hanging the medals up, I managed to squeeze into the line up to hand out medals...this was the moment that I'd waited for all year!  Each finish line has its own meaning for every runner...all the sacrifice and everyone has their own story.  I'm sure no one will remember who it was who gave them their medal, but I was truly honoured to be able to be a teeny tiny part of their marathon experience. 

aren't these gorgeous?!

The winner of the marathon, Lamech Mokono, enjoying some well deserved drink and food after a course setting record of 2:13:42.

I'm a bit of a runner groupie, so I stealthily snapped this picture of the half marathon winner, Hilary Stellingwerff.  If her name sounds familiar, it should...she competed in the 1500m distance in the 2012 London Olympics and just barely missed qualifying for the final heat.  I was a little awestruck. 

i'm not worthy, i'm not worthy

It was a long day out there, but I didn't feel tired in the slightest...I stood for almost six hours straight handing out medals, and I could not wipe the smile off my face even if I tried.  I loved every millisecond of the day...I had so many big smiles, so many thank yous for volunteering, and I even got a few extremely sweaty hugs!  One fellow asked for a hug after I gave him his medal and warned that he was sweaty...I exclaimed "bring it on!!" and he enveloped me in a huge bear hug!  It was pretty funny, and got a good laugh from the crowd around us.  Another memorable moment for me came when I was giving a woman her medal and she started to cry and we spontaneously hugged...I could feel how proud and emotional she was...like I said, each marathon is a journey and I was so happy that I could be a small part of hers.

And so concludes the Year of Volunteering.  All in all...this weekend was truly amazing.  As I said, it was so fitting that it was Thanksgiving.  I found myself getting verklempt throughout the day...last year at the race I was having one of the worst days of my life, and this year I was having one of the best.  I had never considered volunteering before, and was so thankful that out of an unfortunate situation came something that I've enjoyed so much....I'm a true believer of all things for a reason and I think I'm hooked on volunteering for races now!  The other thing that became so apparent to me is how the race is such a community event...I love how running can bring so many people together from all walks of life. 

finish line, i'll see you again next year!


Char said...

It's people like you who allow events like this to happen. I was very aware of the volunteers on Sunday working hard to fill up cups and hand out medals and show us where to go and tried to remember to thank every one who helped me. Their day was much longer than ours and I'm sure they were equally as tired at the end of it.

Anonymous said...

Great post. I have enjoyed volunteering at races myself and it is neat to be part of the behind the scenes and see people cross after their hard efforts.

I did the half with my friend Cindy so we could have gotten a medal from you or walked close by you. Small world.

Maybe I will see you out a race soon in Victoria. My next one is the Bear Mountain 10k on November 16th.