Lately, BB and I have been volunteering at more races. Yesterday, BB checked in the 5k runners at NorthWest Trail Runs’ Interlaken Park Trail to Grill series. We both worked an aid station for the first time this past weekend, at the Redmond watershed trail races. And I volunteered the weekend before while BB ran a 14.5 mile race with the Seattle Running Club on Cougar Mountain. And of course, BB volunteered for several hours while I circled Mt. St. Helens in the Volcanic 50km!
We’ve enjoyed it a lot! And it’s something to think about as well: we race a lot. And most people who race – I think; I know I used to – just sort of think the cost of the race covers the expenses of the race. And that’s true because of volunteers! If race directors had to pay all the labor, if no one volunteered, races would easily be twice as expensive as they are. Even for a small race it requires many hours of labor from many people to put on, usually only a couple of whom are paid.
So, if you race, it’s a cool thing to do to support the races you like by volunteering at them, or at other events by the same people. The races simply wouldn’t exist without them. A community 5km race that costs $25 to enter might cost $75-100 without volunteers. Then, instead of 200 people showing up, almost no one would. The race would die.
So I encourage everyone to volunteer! And really, even though it’s “volunteering” most of the time you are compensated in one way or another. Sometimes you get a race t shirt, sometimes you get discounts on future races. There’s a lot of possibilities. You also get to make friends with other people who volunteer a lot, and the race directors. It’s a great way of connecting to the community.
Many more people race than volunteer. And that’s ok! It doesn’t take 200 volunteers to put on a small race, or 10,000 to put on a big one. But if you race a lot, think about maybe volunteering once in a while too. See the event from the other side and take more responsibility for the opportunities we get to have a fun, challenging, exciting, healthy hobby.
You almost certainly won’t regret it.