Each race I have run, what never fails to brings tears to my eyes (other than my own successes) are the spectators. Hearing people cheer you on, regardless of whether you know them or not, can always give that extra push that you may or may not know you needed. In high school, I volunteered for a number of races to help out at an aid station and to cheer the runners on, but since being a runner myself, it took me a while to get on the other side of a race.
Over the weekend, that finally changed. This past Saturday, I helped Off Road Pursuits with the SoCal Wine Country Women’s Half Marathon in Temecula, CA. I joined Michele and Becky to form the first and fourth aid station for the race, providing water and Fluid Performance energy drink to the runners.
There was something incredibly humbling about going to this race and for the first time, not being one of the runners. I could finally appreciate, in a unique way, the effort, time, and work it takes to make even a smaller race run smoothly. I am so grateful for the learning experience, and the opportunity to cheer on runners was priceless. Many of these women (and three men), due to the lack of race direction, actually went, at most, about five miles off the course and had to be redirected. As a result, some runners ended up running a race that was much longer than 13.1 miles. However, seeing the dedication and perseverance in their eyes was inspiring and their positive attitudes were unbelievable. If my “Great job!” or “You’re almost there!” pushed at least one runner, I know I did my part.
Whether you are a runner or not, a racer or not, I encourage you to volunteer for a race. Your help is always needed and will always be appreciated. And who knows, you may find your spirit as stirred and your heart as moved as mine was.