Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cambridge 5K Oktoberfest Race Report - Volunteer Style

You know what I never did? A race report for the Cambridge 5K Oktoberfest. That’s probably because I didn’t race it. But, I was there! I volunteered!!

I signed up for this race about a week after my triathlon. I knew I needed races to motivate me during my training for the Disney Princess Half Marathon in February. So I picked out 6 races and signed up. Except this one somehow slipped through the cracks. I assume it was something simple as I filled everything out for the registration online, went upstairs to get my credit card and got sidetracked. It’s true what they say: I have the attention span of a gnat. If you can’t keep me interested in something, I’m off doing something else.

Anyway, a friend had signed up for this race as well and I didn’t want to leave her stranded, so I e-mailed the race director and asked if by chance I had signed up and just not gotten my registration receipt. He e-mailed me back and said that I wasn’t registered, but that he could use some volunteers. I had never volunteered for a race before, and I’ve been wanting to see the other side of a race, so I signed up to be a volunteer. As it turns out, my friend never showed up. After 3 or 4 days of numerous e-mails and facebook message attempts, I heard nothing from her. I didn’t want to stand her up in case she was having technological difficulties, so I went anyway. She didn’t. Minus 50 cool points. Most things are minus 10 cool points, but backing out of plans is my number 1 pet peeve. She let me know later that she had to take her dog to the emergency vet, which I completely understand. My dogs are like my kids. I’d drop everything for them too. But, she never called, texted, emailed or anything to let me know. It takes 2 seconds to let someone know that something came up. Don’t be the asshole that stands someone up. Just saying.

When I got to the race, I met up with the other volunteers, got my shirt (score!) and got to work helping out.  I was assigned to one of the turns on the race, so I needed to be out on the course 30 minutes before the race started. You know, in case someone decided to take of early...?? In the meantime, I helped out with directing people to get their race bibs, wristbands for the after party, t shirts, and find bag check. The lines were so long, they decided to move the wristband line over and I checked IDs for the 21+ crowd to get their wristbands for the Oktoberfest after party. As the lines died down, I was shuttled to the second turn in the race. I stood on the corner in a seedy looking area for 30 minutes before the race started. I had to pee, it was cold, I was alone and I was slightly nervous of my surroundings. So, what did I do? I took pictures of myself!

I get bored easily...
...very easily!

About 5 minutes before the start of the race, other volunteer joined me on the corner. He took a better picture of me.

We stood at the corner and held up the sign for the runners to know which way to go. That was a lot of power for me. I could have sent them all the wrong way!! But, don’t worry, I checked, re-checked and checked again to make sure I was pointing the sign the right way!

Some people dressed up in their finest lederhosen for the race. And some dressed as Lady Gaga. I didn’t get the connection, but hey, why not? Anything for fun!

The leaders of the pack
Dress up fun!
After the last person passed by my corner (not that kind of corner, folks!) I was able to walk back to the finish line and watch them come in. Then I got another job. I had to direct the finishers to where the water was. I think I said, “Water is to your left” about 268734 times. I don’t exaggerate, so you know that number is real.

After the race was done, they sectioned off an area to serve beer and pretzels to the participants. I had to make sure no one left the area with their beer, per the Massachusetts open container law. Look at me being a cop. Unfortunately, the pretzels were a little delayed, so I got the “Where are the pretzels?” question a lot. I had no idea. Luckily these people were mostly nice and hadn’t overdone it on the beer (at least not yet) and didn’t try to hurt me because I didn’t have pretzels for them. When they finally came out, there was a stampede. Not kidding. I got out of the way fast. All things were calm and party-like. Until the cops showed up. The real ones. Not me. But the race director had a permit and everything was all good.

Everyone was corralled behind these police barricades for the party
I talked to the race directed afterwards about the race, the party, volunteering, etc. He was grateful that I was able to stay the entire time and thanked me profusely for helping out. I told him the story of not getting myself registered in time and he promised me that since I had helped out so much during the Oktoberfest race, I’d be on the cool kids list and I wouldn’t be locked out of any of their events in the future. Score!! Their next race is on December 18th, the Cambridge 5K Yulefest. While I’d love to do that one, not only to support them, but also because I know some of the volunteers now, and everyone was really cool, I already have another race scheduled for that day. So unless I decide to do two 5Ks in one day, I doubt it will happen. Stop laughing. I could do it!

So the moral of the story is, to get the free t-shirt and admittance to all the free stuff afterwards, you don't even have to run, just volunteer!! Why didn't I think of this earlier?!?!?

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