Sunday, September 11, 2016

Winnipeg 10 & 10: A Volunteer's Perspective

Ted's Run for Literacy Water Station
We all need to pause this afternoon and raise a pint to race director Chris Walton and his happy crew. This year's Winnipeg 10 & 10 was an outstanding event made all the better by the extraordinarily positive army of volunteers. The coordination along the 30 km course is extremely challenging and not for the faint of heart.  The communication between the Race Director and the City, 600+ runners, hundreds of volunteers, medics, police, and aid stations is simply staggering. Well done Chris Walton. Well done Winnipeg.

As Race Director of a much smaller event, but equal in heart, Ted's Run for Literacy, I understand what happens behind the scenes.  The weeks and days leading up to the event snowball. Issues become increasingly urgent as race day approaches. Volunteers become stretched and your phone never stops buzzing and beeping. Glitches are solved as fast as they are created. Race Day is run on fraught nerves and caffeine.  The RD needs to be cool headed, calm, and in charge.  RDs never let them see the sweat.  A successful event is one that seemingly unfolds organically and simply, as though anyone could do it. .  The 10 & 10 is one such event.

At the very last minute parking at Great West Life was cancelled causing a mad scramble just before gun time.  My inside source says Great West Life gave their approval in the days leading up to the event and then revoked it last minute.  I'm sure there is a good reason for the about face, I just can't imagine what it could be?

See Mike Run has written dozens of race reports from the runner's perspective.  This is the first from a volunteer's perspective.  Ted's Run for Literacy was given the privilege to host a water station at the 5 km turnaround point.  This particular water station is busier than most as we serve all runners from the 5 km to 30 km. Literally, all 600+ runners streamed twice past our station.  In practical terms, we served 1200 runners.  

Yes there were glitches.  We ran out of cups and about a dozen runners went thirsty for which we feel terrible. This glitch was fixed very quickly. About eight runners asked for Gatorade and were disappointed when they were told "Sorry, no Gatorade".  This glitch too will be resolved  next year as it has been communicated to race officials and they seemed earnestly concerned and expressed an interest to improve.  

Our water station was the best... sorry all you other wanna-bee water stations.  Our water was the freshest, coldest, and many said their IQ bumped up a minimum of 10 points after one sip!  All runners who drank from the cup of Literacy had an urge to break out a book and read.  Our crew was the funniest, the prettiest, the most active, and definitely the smartest! Now I recognize these are fightin' words and good ole fashion trash talk, but bring it on.  TRL water station won first place. We were a WATER station, the others were water-ish places where there might be someone awake to serve you a glass of luke warm cloudy water-like liquid.

If Ted's Run for Literacy wasn't volunteering at the 10&10 they were running the 10&10. Our Carly ran the 30 km and at 2 km from the finish she looked fresh as a daisy.  Our Darcie crushed the 10 miler and then returned to help out at the TRL water station.   Sadly, our Tim is injured and had to sit this one out.  Pop-up maestro Aldo was a team captain for the back 40 part of the course and, as usual, accomplished the impossible.

If you are a runner, please consider giving back and volunteering at an event.  The view from the other side is as satisfying as the runner's perspective.  If you're a runner with a complaint, don't take it out on a volunteer, they are there to help make you successful.   

Two final truths:
  1. I will hoist a pint to Chris Walton this afternoon.
  2. Ted's Run for Literacy water station was absolutely brilliant and blew the other teams out of the .... umm, water!
Until next time, it's a god day to be alive.

Mike