Saturday, May 11, 2013


*Horrible pun absolutely intended.

One week later, I'm battling an extremely annoying summer cold. I'm parked on the couch, cough syrup in one hand and teaspoon at the ready. 

Psyched for package pick up.
But rewind to last weekend, and I was all smiles! I worked three volunteer shifts for the BMO Vancouver Marathon: a day and a half helping participants at package pick up, and an afternoon handing out medals at the finish line - and it was an amazing experience. I met runners from Spain, the Netherlands, Japan, and across the United States (Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and even Oklahoma!). Of course, there were plenty of runners from the Vancouver area, but I also got to meet runners from northern British Columbia, the island, and the interior. 

I met runners who were running their first half marathon and their first marathon; runners running by themselves; runners running with their sons or daughters; runners running with their friends. I met runners who were running to celebrate turning 21 and turning 30; runners who were running half marathons across North America. Runners who were nervous; runners who were confident; runners who weren't quite sure if they were ready for the race.

The full marathon medals station.
And then a lot of those same runners I saw cross the finish line with my very own eyes. I either put a medal around their necks or watched as a fellow volunteer did so. I saw runners who had to cross the finish line with some help - either supported by a medical volunteer, or pushed in a wheelchair. There were runners with bloody nipples (which was way more than I was expecting to see, and kind of gross, to be honest), runners carrying lots of gear, runners carrying almost nothing. 

I saw full marathon runners cross the line as early as two hours and 45 minutes in, and as late as five and a half hours in. I stayed specifically for those later runners because I kept thinking about how appreciative I felt that a volunteer had waited for me at my first marathon finish line (where I crossed at five hours and 27 minutes) and how I really wanted to do the same for someone else.

John Stanton was hogging all the medals ... just kidding.  
And ... it was hard work! I was on my feet a lot, pitching in wherever help was needed. I went home exhausted at the end of each shift. But I also had a blast. One thing that really struck me about it all, was the thoughtfulness of so many runners who went out of their way to thank me and other volunteers - at package pick up, but also after they'd completed either the half marathon or marathon. (Like, really? You just ran for five hours and you're thanking me?! Crazy, but cool.) 

Thanks to BMO Vancouver Marathon for the opportunity and to my fellow volunteers for helping out, and congrats to everyone who crossed the finish line last week. I'm so glad I decided to volunteer. 

If I can stay on track, #5 will be in Vancouver next year - and I'll get the chance to thank the volunteers that will be helping me along the way. 

This year's view of the finish line. Looking
forward to seeing it from the other side in 2014.


  1. Aw... you are so great! Must have been cool to see the speedsters come in though. I hear ya on the time. I figure if I did a marathon, there's no way I could go faster than 5 hours and I'd much more likely come in around 5.5 IF I could even finish!

    1. Thanks Harriet! The whole experience was really something. Such a new and different way to relate to the athletes involved in my sport of choice. Really showed me that runners come in all types of packages, and reinforced that it doesn't matter how long it takes you to finish - as long as you finish!