Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Race recaps from a volunteer perspective: Crazy cornstarch raves and hiking up a hill in 80's costumes.

April 26th and 27th I volunteered at two local races. 

Two completely different races.... supporting one cause.

A friend posted on facebook about a new race that needed volunteers, so I thought "What the heck?  Why not?  I'm not racing so why not go help out?"  (And it's a cause that is important to me.) So I emailed The Portland chapter of Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America and signed myself up to volunteer for their Sunday Morning race "The Rad 80's Run".  The email also stated that if I could volunteer the night before at "The Cosmic Run" that race would donate $80 to the CCFA.

Okay, sure.  A chance to be at a race that I couldn't really afford to run and help make it fun for others.  That sounds good to me.

This is an account of my adventures.

Sat. April 26th, Cosmic Run.  Check-in time, 7pm.  Weather, rainy and cold.

My first clue that this wasn't the typical type of "fun run" that I was used to was a great majority of the volunteers were smoking.  

Eww.  Not my thing.  

After politely moving myself upwind from the smoke, we broke up into groups and I was assigned the "pink station".

After looking at our watches and determining that we had an hour to kill before we were needed, some went to their cars to keep warm and dry from the cold drizzle and others huddled under the staff tent.

One of the volunteers in my group asked if anyone wanted to go for a run to try to keep warm?  Certainly not keep dry, but keep the blood flowing.

"Sure, why not?"  I replied... just as two other volunteers asked "Why?"
", to keep warm.  To see the race course?"

That was my second clue that this wasn't a typical type of "fun run".

While out on the course, we were stopped by staff working the event... not once... not twice... but FOUR times "What are you doing?"
"Running the course."
"To kill time and stay warm."
"Why?  Running?"
The fourth time they made room for us on their golf cart and asked if we needed a ride.  
"You just ran 3 miles?"
I couldn't help but smile, I had ran 6 miles earlier that morning too.  I really wish I could convey the amusement there.  It was just so funny to be asked by the people hosting the event, a race no less, why we were running.

I believe the event's focus must have been the concert at the end.

There are 4 color stations in roughly 3 miles of gravel path.  Each station is under black light lamps and the course ended at a concert complete with a light show and a DJ to entertain participants.

my shoes under the lights at my color station.

I wish I had planned accordingly and wore some crazy colors or something that would glow.  The race is most probably not my "thing", though I am looking forward to doing "The Color Run" and have done "Color Me Rad" in the past.

This race is different in that it is after sunset, not many children or as much of a "family focused" event and the general atmosphere just seemed different.  Perhaps the mission is the dame and people will do something like this and get excited about running?

It was fun though, since I was kid-free that night.

Photo credit:  Miguel Mendoza

And when it's raining.... cornstarch and water make a Newtonian liquid.  That is always fun!

After the party was over and volunteering was done, I hurried off home to get some rest before the event the next morning...

Sunday, April 27th, The Rad 80's Run.  Check in at 8am.

This was held at the beautiful Mt. Tabor park.  I had never actually been there before, so I showed up early to run a couple miles to stay both warm and check out the area.  Luckily the rain held off until the event was over!

Participants in 80's gear and wigs 

The event the night before had over 1,000 participants while the 80's Rad run had roughly 100 participants.

VooDoo Doughnut provided some treats for participants (and volunteers) to enjoy.

As a volunteer, I wish there were sandwich boards on the road that said "runner on road" as it seemed that there was some difficulty with cars stopping and waiting for runners to pass on the fork of road that I was standing on to direct runners. 

I also wish that I had a safety vest or orange flag to wear or wave as one car tried to go around me a little too closely and another was not going to stop as I was flagging him to do so.  When I explained to both drivers that the road I was standing in the middle of was closed for a race, both were angry with me for not having a sign to explain that.

Hopefully something this organization will invest in if they continue to do fun events like this.

All in all, it was very pretty and I hope that the participants had as much fun doing the race as I did watching them conquer the hill of a road I was standing on.  I think the race was practically all up hill until they got to the finish stretch. 

As the last runner went past I followed up the hill and quickly got lost.  I think someone moved one of the mall signs made to direct runners.

Go that way...
After calling the race director and having her husband come back up the hill to retrieve me and take me down the hill, I was able to find the finish!

I think it's a cute little race that has a lot of potential and perhaps I'll try it again as a participant instead of a volunteer.

If bling is your thing, they have a cute concept as a finisher's medal.  They have converted a cassette tape with a label with the event information and a ribbon to wear it.

There is a bit of a difference however with what is advertised on the facebook page (on the left) and what participants were given (on the right).

The cassette tape also had the correct date on one side (pictured) and the opposite side had the 28th printed.  Ooops.  The ribbon is also a cheap ribbon used to wrap gifts with a knot tied on the ends, while the one on the left has a visible seam from being the type of ribbon that is sewn.

Just a small detail to point out.  If I had done this race for the bling (as I have done in the past with some races) I would have been disappointed.  Luckily this was for a cause that I feel needs more exposure and more research done for a cure.

Have you volunteered for a race? If not, do you make a point to thank the volunteers you pass on the course?  ;-)

Have you ran a race solely for the finisher's medal? Or for the cause they supported?  Tell me about your experience!


  1. I always, always thank the volunteers. I'm not super fast, though so I have time to notice them.

  2. Thanks Meg! You know.... it wasn't something I ever even thought about until my first volunteer experience. i think I not only took the volunteers for granted, but figured that everyone at a race was a paid employee of the race company...