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It’s been a month since my last post, but as I’m not actually running at the moment, that is not really surprising.  Since the last post I’ve been to see the doc twice and have got the all clear to not need crutches. Last Friday was my last visit and after being left in the room waiting for the doctor to arrive I found out a few minutes later that the door was not unlocked and the doctor was not able to enter the room – apparently that happens on the first appointment every morning. I did get the go ahead to start doing some exercises and just to take it carefully and don’t overdo it so I decided to help out with the water stop at the Columbus Marathon on Sunday.  This should have been my first marathon so although it was sad to not take part, it was still nice to get some of the race experience in.

Sunday morning came round early and I was up at 5am which seems crazy for being a Sunday AND because I wasn’t running but we had to be at the aid station by 6.34am.  I’m not sure why it was 634 – it’s not like people have 4 minute snooze buttons on their alarm clock – I’m sure most people have it set to 10. The morning was pretty similar to a race morning – I got dressed in my gear that I had laid out the night before but this time I dressed in layers – no shorts and a tshirt this morning! After having the coffee, bagel and the usual morning routine I headed into Columbus.  As I pulled onto Broad Street at 625 I drove past a couple of aid stations that were already busy filling cups, but they were the first two aid stations so would be getting the people a few minutes before us.

I got out the car, grabbed my gear and walked over to the group to get my orders. I started off putting cups out but was soon asked to start filling the cups with water. I was glad I had brought a pitcher with me as it was so much easier to pour water from than some of the other containers that were in use. I just kept filling cups and then going to refill my pitcher and then heading back to the table to try and work out where I (or someone else) had left off. Due to the darkness and the shadows in the cups it was actually pretty hard to tell whether the cups had water in them so I went back to the car and grabbed my running torch and headed back to keep filling (side joke for the american readers – don’t worry about having a torch on my head – the abundance of water meant I was not concerned about catching fire)

The tables were stacked up to four levels high and then it was time to grab a group photo (thanks to the Columbus Running Company for their photo)Group shot of the Columbus Running Company volunteers at the Columbus Marathon mile 6 water stopIt was quite funny – as we all lined up for the shot an ambulance came from behind us with it’s sirens going so we all had to move over to allow it to pass.  We all lined up under the inflatable race marker normally used for the start and finish of races – I’m not sure if the Start Logo would be demoralising after running for 6 miles already. If you look carefully, in the bottom right of the picture you can see the aid table for the elite runners.

Shortly after the photo was taken, the wheelchair athletes zoomed past followed by the elite runners and then the hordes came.  At first there were only a few people but when the first pace group hit, it was really crowded.  We were holding out the water cups, shouting Water, Water and trying not to grab cups as fast as possible.  I did find that having long arms really helped – I was able to reach out and pass to some of the runners who were not able to get close to the side of the stop as it was really crowded.  When it wasn’t too busy, it was possible to read the name on the bib and then hand the water over with a hopefully encouraging personalised word mentioning the runners name. I know that when I was running the Capcity half – it was really neat to hear someone call my name out – but it did surprise me the first time.  For those runners who had distinctive dress, costume or gear it was great to see their smiles as we recognised their effort. My favourite were these two.

I was very impressed at how many runners said thankyou for volunteering and thanks for the water as they came past. It was really nice for them to take the time and the energy to thank us and we got tons of smiles too.  Everyone was really friendly and seemed to be enjoying themselves even though it was pretty crowded at the water stop. I was amazed at just how many people and how close together everyone was as they came through – I know it would have driven me nuts if I had to run 26.2 miles with that many people packed together, but I think it was just the sheer number of people hitting the narrower and slower water stop that was causing a bit of a bottle neck.

I kept a look out for the several runners that I knew were running the race and saw 4 people that I recognised but only gave water to one of them.

After the official pace car drove past, there was still quite a few walkers behind the vehicle so we stayed a bit for the last few people and then packed up which went pretty quickly. Then it was back home. I was pleased that my leg hadn’t given my any problem despite being on it for 3.5 hours with a lot of carrying water and then turning for cups. In fact my left arm probably ached the most due to holding out that many cups of water.

I was a good morning. My preperations of a decent pitcher (mark with your name), headlamp, thin gloves to keep your hands a bit warm, rake to gather the cups and waterproof trousers and several layers meant I kept warm and I helped the waterstop run efficiently. I think the weather was perfect for running and I was glad to be involved in a bit of running culture – something I have missed for the past two months. (Although today I joined a gym and was really glad to get some exercise in – that elliptical and treadmill are looking very tempting – especially as the stationery bike that I’m limited to at the moment really makes for a sore bum)

If you get a chance to volunteer for a race – especially if you are sidelined due to injury, then I highly recommend it, especially if it’s a Columbus Running Company one 😉

For more photos of the race, check out their Facebook album.

What is your snooze time on your alarm clock?. Have you ever volunteered at a race and what has been your favourite running costume that you’ve worn or seen?