Saturday, November 16, 2013

Tom Walker Half-Marathon Volunteer Report

I follow Florida Track Club on Facebook and over the week, they posted a request for volunteer’s for this weekend’s Tom Walker Half Marathon.  They offered a free race tee and a free membership to the Florida Track Club in compensation. How could I say no to that? I volunteered that day!

I got to Boulware Springs Park around 7am, and, well, kind of stood around for a while.  I found Mark, the Race Director, to get my assignment, and picked up a shirt.  He gave me directions to the Water Stop / Turn Around area, and I volunteered to drive another volunteer to the area (we were both Water Stop volunteers). 

We watched the race begin, from near the Finish line, then drove out to the Water Stop.

Two other volunteers were already out there, and most of the set-up was already done. We all chatted for a while – we were the Halfway Point, so no runner was there for the first ½ hour or so. 

Eventually, I made my way over to the Turn Around spot, which was just an orange cone, to cheer and high five.  The first runner got there in about 35 minutes!

Mary, the other volunteer who came with me in the car, stationed herself at the turn-around and announced peoples’ times as they passed – the runners all seemed to like that a lot.

The other 2 volunteers stayed with the water table and handed out drinks.

After about 1.5 hours, two final stragglers came in – Thames and Short Lady. Short Lady apparently does this race every year, and walks the entire way.  Thames looked like he was having issues.  Turned out he was cramping pretty bad and had to slow way down. He got some water and limped his way back towards the second-half of the race.

We packed up our table and headed back to the park and the finish line.

Once unpacked, Mary and I cheered on the runners coming in.  At one point, Meredith (she of the Melon Run), handed me and Mary a handful of medals to give out to those who were still coming in. 

After 3 hours, there were only two runners out on the course – Thames and the Short Lady.

Short Lady walked her way in at almost exactly 3:30.  But where was Thames?

Some of Thames’ buddies were also waiting at the finish line, and after 4 hours, they were getting worried. They couldn’t reach him on his cell phone. We would get reports that there was a runner sitting on a bench, walking slowly, laying down, walking with a limp, etc from the Course Monitors (the bike boys), or from various strangers out utilizing the Trail.

Finally, Mary decided to go find him. She was the fittest out of all of us, so she just started running down the trail and she eventually brought him in and he slowly and proudly crossed the finish line (that had since been removed). He got his well-deserved medal, and the whole group of us (at least 5 + Thames + Me + Mary +  a few others) all headed back to the park.  Everyone was gone, I don’t think there was any water or anything left for Thames, but his buddies took care of him. Everyone shook everyone’s hands and we all went our separate ways.

Halfway to the car, I realized that I still had a handful of medals!  Oops – I ran back to the park and gave them to Mark, then went back to the car.

On the way home, I shifted in my seat and felt something in my back pocket. What was that? Oh, lord – there was another medal in my back pocket – I’d stuffed Thames’ original medal in my back pocket when we began to worry about him (I gave him another medal from the stack on my arm when he came in). I can’t keep it – I didn’t earn it! But I was worried about looking foolish if I emailed Mark and said “oops, I found a medal in my pocket…” so I left it in my purse. I guess I’ll keep it for motivation and run next year!