A few months ago I was entered into the lottery for entry into the 2013 NYC Half, but had to remove myself from the lottery when my minor foot injury got too bad to be able to train in time. When NYRR announced that volunteers at the 2013 race would get guaranteed entry for 2014, I jumped at the chance! It also qualified as my volunteer credit for the 9+1 program for entry into the 2014 NYC Marathon, so two birds with one stone. And since I had several friends running in the race, it was the perfect opportunity to still be a part of the day.
I talked my mother into volunteering with me, since she lives pretty close to the finish line area and is also doing the 9+1 program. After she runs her first half marathon with me in September, I know she’ll be hooked and want to do the 2014 NYC Half too.
We arrived and got coffee, donuts, and hand warmers for inside our gloves. Since it was St. Patrick’s Day, we had put shamrock temporary tattoos on our cheeks, and I wore my green Sparkly Soul headband and NYC marathon borough gloves (with a different borough on each of the five fingers).
We were stationed at the finish line area, right past the medals, and were able to see the winners crossing way up ahead, before they were taken off to the side by the media. We hung out in the cold for about an hour and a half as the excitement built, before the crowds of runners started arriving.
Medals waiting for runners
For a while, I was stationed as a “directions marshal,” which entailed helping facilitate the flow of traffic through the post-finish area, but basically meant cheering for runners after they got their medals! It was really the perfect spot. I got to see everyone right after they’d crossed; happy, exhausted, ecstatic, in tears of joy or tears of disappointment.
Yes, tears of disappointment…about that. I understand that many people set ambitious goals for themselves and it can be crushing when they’re not met, and there are a whole slew of emotions that hit you after you cross a finish line and you’re completely drained.
But you just ran 13.1 miles and that’s amazing! BE HAPPY!!!
My favorite runners were the ones that kissed their medals, shouted “I did it!,” cried in disbelief and joy, thanked us for coming out to volunteer in the cold, said “nice shamrocks!” about my tattoos, and especially the ones that high-fived me as they passed.
I also was able to spot a lot of people I knew, both in person and only from the internet. I saw both Olympian Carrie Tollefson and NYRR reporter Karla Bruning, as well as lots of people whose running blogs I read. Most exciting, I got to hug and congratulate my three friends who I’d been tracking on the NYC Half iPhone app, and a fourth friend from college whom I didn’t know was running!
After seeing the last of my friends, I moved a little farther back to help with heat blanket distribution, where my mother had been stationed. At that point, I couldn’t feel my toes and just needed to be moving rather than cheering in one place. Running back and forth wrapping people in heat blankets did the trick! Once again, everyone was so appreciative and thanked us as we wrapped them up, and as the runners from farther back in the pack started arriving, they seemed to get happier and happier with their accomplishment, which was so exciting to see.
I also ran into my blogger friend Abby who was also volunteering. It was so great to finally meet in person!
Photo credit: Abby
After the last runners crossed the finish line, we were able to take one of the many extra recovery bags, and checked out to get our volunteer shirts.
Can’t wait to run the NYC Half next year!
Did you run the NYC Half? Or a different race this weekend?
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