Volunteering at the Virgin Sport British 10K Run

On 9 July 2017, I took part in the Virgin Sport British 10K, but this time i was a volunteer rather than a runner!

I've actually been off my running game since running Hackney Half at the end of April 2017; the race had left me feeling a broken. One of my friends informed me about volunteering and seduced by the prospect of free entry to a future race (and also servicing the community, obvs), I signed up.

There were a range of volunteer roles, such as Water Marshalls, Bag Drop and Route Marshalls. I signed up to be a Rewards Marshall - one of the volunteers that provide the medals and the goodies at the end of the race. 

I woke up at the brutal time of 4:45am to try to catch the first bus to Central London......a big fail! when I checked my phone for bus times, I saw that not only had I missed the first bus, but the next one was 30 minutes later, which left me a mere 25 minutes to reach the volunteer meet-up. I resorted to Uber Pool, where the driver took me on a scenic but unnecessary route through London.

I eventually reached my destination; I registered, picked up my volunteer garms (a hi vis volunteer vest and hat) and had breakfast.

As a Rewards Marshall I was required to help set up the rewards stations; about 20 of us got the bananas, water bottles, bananas and goodie bags ready for distribution.

I wanted to give out medals (as did every Rewards Marshall), but I ended up handing out Lucozade bottles instead. I gave out the first Lucozade at about 10:35am, with the first runner to cross the line completing the course in a speedy 31 minutes! Just to put into perspective, that's my average 5km time these days......

After the first runner, there was a steady trickle of exhausted collecting their rewards for the following 10 minutes; but after that it became somewhat of a tsunami of runners. They did not stop coming and my arms got quite a workout from distributing bottles for about 2 hours straight! There were so many sweaty, elated yet exhausted runners.... the sun had burned through and it was a hot day to run. I have never seen people so happy to receive a bottle of Lucozade......I'm not a fan of Lucozade myself, but I appreciated that after running 10km/6.2 miles that the runner would need something to replenish their depleted electrolytes and water levels. I dare say that some expressions of gratitude for the energy drink bordered ecstatic!

Most of the runners were British, though there were quite a few Europeans who had ran; it reminded me of my own runcations. Luckily I managed to see a few familiar faces as they collected their goody bags and I got a few sweaty hugs!

My volunteering was due to finish at 1pm, but actually ended about 30 mins early, when the last race participants played and marched over the finish line....yes, they were a marching band. It was quite an uplifting end to the race.

I felt that there were two issues that should be taken into account for future Virgin Sport events. Firstly the goodie bags ran out, leaving those runners who completed the route over 1:15 mins without a t-shirt. In my personal experience when completing the run, I have only really cared about the medal, t-shirt and access to water; any other freebies were an added (and sometimes unnecessary) bonus. I am unsure how the bags actually managed to run out, but I suspect that people who had not earned the bags managed to get their hands on one or two. Which leads me to my second  issue - the fact that it was quite easy for spectators (especially tourists) to get into the finishers funnel. At Hackney Half Marathon, it was practically impossible for any spectators to get access to the finishers funnel. I would have thought that given it was Central London that security would be a bit tighter towards the finish line. In fact I saw a few spectators and tourists help themselves to bottles of drinks and bananas. It's difficult to stop them when you have to cater to the thousands of runners that had just finished their race and wanted to collect their bits and bobs before fully relaxing. I would suggest that the finisher's funnel be more restrictive in future and that there be security/volunteers dedicated to ensuring that spectators don't enter the area.

What I appreciated is that many of the runners had actually thanked me for volunteering. I thought this was really respectful; despite being shattered, they had taken the time to acknowledge that the volunteers had contributed to the (somewhat) smooth running of the race. As a runner I always thank the Rewards Marshall for whatever I received, but I never actually thanked them for volunteering. It gave me food for thought and I will try to be conscious with showing appreciation and gratitude to volunteers at future races that I attend.

It was nice to get involved in a race without actually having to run. It gave me a renewed appreciation for volunteers who choose to get up made earlier to organise elements of the race and ensure that things are running smoothly for the participants. The free entry to a future Virgin Sport race within the next 12 months is an added bonus, especially as I feel that race registration is becoming more expensive. I would be open to volunteering again in the future; maybe it can help re-ignite my motivation to run.....

1 comment:

  1. awww thank you again for volunteering!

    that's rubbish about the goody bags running out! I would've been really annoyed to be honest. hope virgin have read this and take this into account!

    look forward to seeing what race you enter...


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