October 13, 2009

[FOR OTHERS] 053. Volunteer at the Chicago marathon

Posted in For Others at 1:38 pm by Heather

No sooner had I posted my 101 in 1001 list than highlife adventures went and put an opportunity to volunteer for the Chicago Marathon on the calendar.  Ding – off I went to sign up, even though it was a 6:45 am start the night after a pub crawl, ugh.   Thank goodness our start time got changed to a more reasonable 11:15 am for the second shift, and we found out that our volunteer assignment was at the finish line, pouring beer for the runners finishing their 26.2 mile stint.  Talk about a plum assignment, even if it was 40 degrees out at 11 am.

However, if the organization of the Marathon volunteers was any indication, we are seriously lucky that Chicago didn’t get the 2016 olympics, as this was a very poorly run ship at the Balbo checkin. 

First, the volunteers giving out jackets and hats told us that they were out of hats – despite us seeing boxes of them, and observing the volunteers stuffing 5 or 6 of them into their bags to take home themselves.  Talking to the operations person in charge didn’t even do anything!

Next, when we checked in at 11:30 am, we were told to go to the hospitality tent to grab lunch before heading out to our area at noon.  When we got to the sandwich station, we were informed we needed tickets, which, of course, we didn’t have.  Liz, the event leader from highlife went to work out the situation, and was told “Well you have to leave in 10 minutes to get to your station – you don’t have time to eat!”  Liz was a champ and got folks the tickets, and I was thankful I had a larger breakfast than normal.  so 20 highlifers chowed down sandwiches in about 5 minutes so we could meet up and go to our station.

… and we waited there for 30 minutes while they tried to find wrist bands to say we’re over 21 and check IDs (even though we have to be 21 to join the group).  Eventually they found the bands and gave them to Liz who just started handing them out anyway.  Crazy!  At least when we got to the volunteer station, things went much better.

The runners were pretty excited to get beer at the end; some of my favorite quotes were “I have been waiting all morning for this!” and “The thought of this beer is what got me through the last 3 miles”.  The runners were all handed bananas and bagels, and thus the volunteer chant became “Free Beer! It goes great with bananas!” 

Interestingly, there were several female runners who looked at the beer skeptically until we informed them it was full of carbs, at which point they cheered up and drank the beer.  They drank enough beer that we were tapped out around 3 pm – literally and figuratively – no more beer!

I got to be a marathon pouring expert with a system of just leaving the tap on and getting the beer out without much head – and the day was sunny and so it wasn’t really too bad, until you spilled cold beer on your fingers. 

I’d definitely do this again, even though it was more exhausting than I would have thought…

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