Yesterday I volunteered at the Blue Back Mitten Run in West Hartford.
It was overall, a good experience, though I will admit that I had hoped for a bit more. First, the weather. It was in the twenties, maybe upper by the time the races started, but either way very COLD. There were half mile and one mile races for children at 10am. I didn't get to see those races, but there were a lot of cute kids running around with Bib numbers at the registration tables, so I'm sure it was a very fun race to watch. Then the main event was at 10:30am. I admit that I was quite impressed with the turn out for this race. I'm used to maybe 200 racers tops and this well exceeded that (maybe to the full 1000 they expected). If you wanted to actually race, you certainly had to be out in front. Once the horn went off, the front pack jetted out ahead and the rest of the mob slowly moved its way down the road; there's no way someone in that pack had a chance of getting accurate time.
There were at least two people (I saw one girl and one guy) wearing the Vibram shoes. I caught the girl and she said she absolutely loves them and that they're great for racing in. However, the craziest thing I saw the whole day was the outfit that the race winner wore. Remember, it was in the twenties! He had on running shoes, running shorts, a racing tank top, and arm warmers. That's it. Most everyone else at the front of the pack at least had running gloves and a hat if not a running jacket. I swear this guy felt like he was freezing by the time he hit the finish line some 17 minutes after the horn. I guess that would be extra motivation though - get to the finish so you can get warm again.
Anyways, on to my volunteering. As I mentioned above, I was slightly disappointed, but you can't expect all jobs to be fun, right? I got set up to work baggage check. Me and five other high school seniors (who all knew each other) stood across from registration and collected bags, jackets, shirts, etc. for people to pick up after the race. We managed to have two to three dozen bags which surprised us, but what this job meant was that we were not going to see the race. One of the highschooler's father offered to watch the bags while we went to see the race start. Then when we got back to watching the bags, all of the high schoolers went off to the finish line to watch the finish. Another reason as to why you can't fully trust high schoolers to take on the responsibility of more important volunteer positions. I even wonder now if they gave me that position because they thought I was in that group - the lady divying up jobs said she thought that we all knew each other, so maybe I got mixed up. Who knows.
Either way, I got to see a crazy winter running outfit, a couple of Vibram runners, got to talk to a couple ladies who ran the Hartford Marathon that suggested a Spring marathon for me, and managed to give back to the racing community with one volunteer day. I'll certainly be doing it again.