Multiple times a year, I participate in long-distance endurance races.
Most of my events take entirely place in very remote and mountainous, hard-to-access areas, and consist of running for fifty or sixty miles or kilometers, while being supported and tended to at several Aid Stations.
Aid Stations are distributed as evenly through the race distance as possible (typically, every seven or ten miles). At each of them, they take a note that you are still alive and accounted for. At the Station, you can also seek medical help (or they will make you seek medical help if you think you are fine, but they think otherwise), you can resupply your water and refuel.
Moreover, the volunteer-based aid station crew is always extremely cheerful, helpful and smiling! No matter that they had to get up at some insane hours of early morning (such as 2 or 3AM, for example), had to load their respective trucks with water, food, electrolyte solutions, gels, even portable BBQ for the overnight races to keep us all satiated and relatively warm. They had to prepare the foods they are serving during the race, make sure there is always plenty of ice for both consumption and cooling down the bodies. They took large quantities of anti-chafing creams, sunscreen, first aid kits and ointments with them. Often the night before, they had to set the station, put the tents, chairs, stretchers and tables up. If the Aid Station area is not easily reachable by car, they often would hike in and out to these stations, carrying all the above-mentioned necessities with them.
Lots of logistics, dedication, determination, love, and pure physical strength to do all this for the runners.
Oftentimes, some volunteers have a family member running, so they want to help out. Or they are runners themselves and suffer from an injury, so they want to be a part of the race by helping out while recovering from the physical setback. Then, there are many of them who simply want to help and offer a smile and a high-five, sun, rain, or snow!
Volunteers and their cow bells, with which they greet each and every runner approaching their station, create this special, great atmosphere of any race. When I pass them or seek assistance from them, I always make sure to thank them for their time. I also usually say, “All this would not be possible without you, guys!”. They say, well, this is you who is running, we “only” help…
Well, thank you all for all you do, it is well beyond the attributive “only”… Love yah all!
Magdalena is the owner of the Be Fit Fit Personal Training Studio (www.befitfit.biz). Visit her “Be Fit Fit” blog at www.verdenews.com