Volunteering is Good for the Soul

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Well, hot off the heels of volunteering at a weekend adventure race, Jody and I decided to head out for another selfless act of volunteerism. I wasn’t scheduled to do any volunteering or racing for the National Capital in the first place, but as usual, plans can change rather rapidly. Truth be told, I really didn’t feel like even watching any of the marathon drama unfold this year. This was mainly due to the fact that I’m still unable to do any running whatsoever myself, so I really don’t feel like watching others go to it and get their goals. However, when the call for help came out at the last minute at work, I decided to set aside my selfishness and volunteer. As usual, we’ve got some pictures online, and there’s more to my story, so read on.

One morning at work that week, while walking upstairs, I was passing another fellow that I know from work who is a runner (Joe), and he mentioned they might need volunteers, as the race organizers were desperately looking for people to volunteer for the very first water station on the course, which happens to be right outside our work building. I told him I was probably not going to be heading out to the race this year, and went to my office. However, I then got an email about the same thing again, and decided maybe I should help out. After all, Jody had originally suggested we spend some time together watching the race, and I had said no, so maybe she’d be game for this. The downside was that we’d have to be there around 5:45am. I called home, and of course she was keen to do it. Damn. Early morning for us.

On the race morning, it was even tougher, as we opted to bike to the water station, to avoid any road closures and/or parking issues while out there. That meant leaving the house around 5:15am, which of course meant being up around 4:30am!!! What the? I was once again getting up earlier than I would have if I’d actually been racing. Did I mention how much I appreciate race volunteers yet? Well I do. It’s good to put it in perspective.

We got up early on Sunday, had a light breakfast, and rode our bikes down to Gatineau. It was a brilliant morning. The air was crisp and cool, but it was sunny, and the river was really calm. Add that to the fact that there was virtually no traffic, and it made for a nice ride to the city centre. On arrival at the water station, there were already a good little group of volunteers, and the tables were already set up, but we still had to set up all the cups and fill them all up. Let me tell you, there are a lot of water cups to put out for a national race like this. Thousands and thousands of thirsty runners that have a long day in the sun makes for many cups. We got pretty good at filling them up (eventually)!

There were two main areas. The first was the Gatorade station, and the second was the water station. I decided it would be better to be at the water area, as the mess is much less sticky, since we’d end up wearing a lot of the liquids ourselves. We worked diligently to get all the water set up, and before we knew it, the race was underway. The one thing that I learned as well is that all the water is straight from the city taps, in case you thought it was bottled stuff. As a result, we heard plenty of complaints about the water quality as people went by. I can sympathize, as that Gatineau water reeks of chlorine. I wouldn’t have drank it 😉

The whole process was pretty smooth, with each of us lined up along the curbs handing out cups of water to racers. I was at the very last point in the water station, so if they didn’t get a water from me and wanted it, they would go thirsty for the next 3km. As such, I made it a point to be very vocal and encourage everyone to have some water, telling them it was the key to success. There were a lot of very kind racers taking the time to thank us. Easy to do at the start of the race I guess. I would imagine people running the 39km water station get a lot more blank stares and have to work a lot harder at getting the water to the people 🙂

All in all, I’d have to say that it was another good experience. We were treated pretty well too. We got ball caps, fanny packs, a snack bag, subway sandwich at the end of the race, and of course all the water and Gatorade we could drink 😉 It stayed pretty cool for most of the morning while we were there, but by the time we were done, the sun was out and keeping us toasty finally. Once we were done, I cycled with Jody to the entrance to Gatineau Park, then sent her home while I did a quick loop of the park. Sadly, it was already 11am, so the park opened its gates to car traffic, but it was still a nice ride. Nothing like tacking on a quick extra 50km ride to my volunteer day 😉

By the time I got home, it was around 1:30pm, but it felt like a long time had gone by. Of course, it actually had, since we were up so damn early! We spent the rest of the day just sort of lounging. Reading on the deck in the sun, enjoying a beer, you know, a perfect Sunday afternoon. It looks like if I can’t run for the rest of the summer, at least there will be plenty of opportunities to experience the rush of racing from the other side!

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