Thursday, May 19, 2016

Ultrateering... It's a Thing... That You Should Definitely Be Doing

Whenever road runners ask me why I run ultras and how I can stand wandering around the woods on race day for 6+ hours at a time, I always have a ton of reasons.

I love the woods!
It's an adventure!
What else have I got to do today?
I can pee (almost) anywhere I want!

And most importantly......


It's like a buffet just shows up in the middle of the woods! And the longer the race, the better the snacks! 

When I switched to trail racing more than road racing, I remember noticing the volunteers a lot more than I did during road races. Road race volunteers have a tough job, they typically stand out in the blazing sun, arm extended, waiting for you to grab a cup filled with gatorade or water. Don't get me wrong, it ain't glamorous work and I've always loved them being there. But these trail volunteers.... They're out in the woods all day and they don't just hand you a glass of water, they fill your water bottles, your hydration pack, they untie your shoes, they pull your socks off, they remind you to eat, ask about your salt pills, they cheer you up, and they talk you off the edge. They can make a race day magic. Ultra volunteers ARE magic. And you should be too.

Ultrateering (it's a word now, so go with it) is one of the most satisfying and healing things I've found since discovering trail running. If you've read this blog you know I've been wrestling with health issues that require me to reassess the racing I do. I like races although I'm not a RACER. I like the feeling of a race day, the battle and the victory. I miss doing races and there's no way around it. But Ultrateering lets me be part of it! I get to feed off of all the race day excitement! As a volunteer I've watched people come into an aid station crying and come back on their next loop rejuvenated! I've seen people take a nap, get up, and kick the snot out of a race. I've watched runners make hard choices to call it a day when it isn't working. I've wiped away tears, I've hugged, and I've high fived. I've peeled off socks, I've untied countless knotted shoes, and I've made a complete ass out of myself to get a smile from a stranger in a tough place.

It's hard work. And you don't get a medal or a buckle when you've finished your 5-20 hour shift. You don't get to upload an amazing run to STRAVA, and you don't get race photos. But instead of just patting yourself on the back, you get to be part of HUNDREDS people's race! You get to play a part in their victory!!!!

I think about all the hours of racing I've done... I've still got a lot of giving back to do. And I love it. I watched a video clip of a guy talking about volunteering at a race he had run for years... he said something about how he had taken (run the race) for X amount of years and now he wants to give (volunteer) for X amount of years. As someone that loves racing and volunteering, that teared me up because I totally get it.

If you love to race, then volunteer at a race or two or seven. Seeing the other side of the race will only make you love running, racing, and the running community more. And we could all use a little good karma, huh?

1 comment:

  1. Yay for volunteering! I am jealous about how much fun it looks like you guys are having at all these ultrateering events!