Monday, October 17, 2011

Working (not crossing) the finish line

Yesterday was a brisk, blustery day and I spent it doing volunteer work at a local 5k.  I really enjoy volunteering for races (when I’m not running them) so I was looking forward to this event.  Runners are such a fun bunch of people to chat with, and we always have something in common, so the time passes quickly while we catch up on the goings-on of the local race scene and discuss training techniques, injuries, and the inevitable topic of “who’s running Boston”.  Every year a handful of runners from my club get into the Boston Marathon, and I was hoping that in 2012 I would be among the group.  Unfortunately that will have to wait one more year until I recover from my surgery.  Everyone asked about the status of my hip, which always leads to the question of recovery time.  When I tell most people it’s going to be four months I get the sympathetic nod.  When I tell runners it’s going to be four months, the look is something closer to hearing I just received a death sentence.  It’s unimaginable.  So… I try not to dwell on that and just focus on how good I’m going to feel when I start back up running in March!
Any runner who has never volunteered in a race needs to add that to their bucket list in the near future.  It’s amazing to see how much goes into putting on a smooth race!  That finish line you take for granted, for example, requires half a dozen people, careful coordination, and sometimes a little creativity.  Luckily we have Gary, a seasoned timing veteran, showing us the ropes.  (Literally, he had to show us how to string up the ropes).  Gary was reluctant to have his picture taken in the timing area because he doesn’t want to get inundated with race organizers asking him to time events.  How cute that Gary thinks race organizers read my blog! 

Gary "Not For Hire"

Gary-Not-For-Hire is a great teacher and has a very structured method for setting everything up, and we had that finish line set up in no time, despite some gusty winds!

Jackie setting up the cones

Me putting the final touches on the chute

Once the race started we set the clock (I’m getting pretty good at this!) and waited to see a glimpse of the runners.  Luckily the course went right past us so we got a chance to cheer them on at the beginning of the race!
Like father, like son! TVFR members Peter and Richard Berdos

In just 15 or so minutes we saw the lead police car making its way towards us with the first runner.  We all geared up and waited his arrival, which happened in 17:06.  From there it was a constant flurry of runners coming in, with some breaks in between.  The real challenge was trying to track all the cross country runners that came in all at once!  After the last of the walkers came through we got a request to time the kid’s one mile fun run.  It gave me more experience working the clock so I didn’t mind.  And boy some of those kids can fly! 
When the last of the kids crossed the finish line, it was a scramble to break everything down and lug it all back to Gary’s truck while Gary computed the race results.  It was surprisingly easy work (since Gary was such a good teacher).  The most amazing part was watching Gary load everything so precisely into his truck.  It took some serious technique!

The Gary Sandwich

Gary-Not-For-Hire and Sherry

It was a great day for a race, and since I couldn’t run it I was happy to at least be there.  Once our work was done, I headed out to enjoy some of the day. 
And finally, what running blog post would be complete without a picture of my horse?

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