One of my 2015 New Year’s resolutions is to thank at least one volunteer at every race I run. I appreciate those volunteers who show up with smiling faces and brave the cold or hot conditions just to ensure the runners receive their fill of hydration. They get drenched as we toss our unused water and sports drinks to the side, yet they continue to keep their positive attitudes and encourage us to “keep it up.” Without them, races would be tougher and heavier as we’d need to carry our own nutrition. Here are a few aid stations that stick out in my mind for better and for worse:
Breast Cancer Walks. I try to participate in charity races as a way to see my registration dollars go to important non-profits and make me feel like I’m working out for the greater good and for something so much bigger than myself. Each October, I try to find a breast cancer walk/run and I am never disappointed in the aid stations. Men often man these aid stations and dress up in womanly attire to promote this female-oriented cause. With curlers in their wigs and underwear worn on the outside of their clothes, these men give the walkers/runners a laugh and a warming of the heart.
Themed Aid Stations. From costumed heroes to saloons complete with cowboys and entire painted backdrops, I love enjoying the creativity of fun-loving volunteers as I run past. Sometimes I find myself laughing so hard that I lose my energy. It’s worth it!
Great Wall of China Marathon. Because good, clean water is a precious commodity in China, every aid station served entire bottles of water. The volunteers didn’t open up the bottles and pour them into small cups; rather, they handed all runners the entire bottle at each and every station to avoid any contamination. Unfortunately, it was challenging to get water bottles up the Wall due to their weight. So at mile 21 and 22, no water existed. This left runners crawling around on the Wall searching for any tossed-to-the-side bottles that contained any ounce of water left in them. Quite a sight!
12K’s of Christmas. In Gilbert, Ariz., just outside of Phoenix, the annual 12K’s of Christmas occurs each December. As a treat to runners, choral groups serenade each runner at every 1K marker. From children dressed as snowmen, to professional singers donned in old-fashioned suits and dresses, this race forced me to remove my earbuds and feel the holiday spirit resonate from one kilometer to the next.