Last Saturday, our local running club put on its annual midsummer 4 mile race, the "Summer Scamper." I have felt "raced out" so volunteered to help with organizing the race, rather than run. It was interesting and I learned some useful things.
This was a very small event, about 60-70 runners total. Registration was a card table set up in a gazebo in a small strip mall on the west end of Purdue's campus. The race director asked me to show up around 6:30am for the 8am race. I got there and three of us had everything set up. Registration started at 7am and folks showed up on time. It was a little hectic as the single card table was a little overwhelmed. But we got everyone signed up.
My assignment during the race was to stop traffic at one of the two road crossings on the out-and-back course. As the race was mostly on the south end of the city trail system that I run on daily, I knew the point well. It was a beautiful morning, there was no traffic to stop. So, I had the chance to just stand in the middle of an intersection, encourage fellow runners and listen to the birds sing on a summer's day.
The local HS cross country runners smoked the field. After a large gap, the the usual spread of runners came along, the gliders, the clompers and the gaspers. A very relaxed race on a nice morning.
And I learned two useful things.
First, greet people you don't know. While I've lived here for 25 years, this is only my first year in the running club. Most club runs don't fit my family schedule, so I only know a few people in the club, none of whom were there Saturday. The other club members helping out didn't know quite what to make of me and thus I only had one hand shake and had several odd looks. Made me feel like an outsider...perhaps I was. It taught me a lot about welcoming folks I don't know. I did this in a couple of business meetings yesterday...with amazing response from the newcomers. They were grateful. It's not hard to smile, say welcome and ask about their interests.
Second, how cool it is when runners say "thanks." I've always tried to say thank you to course marshalls, particularly police who handle traffic. But I never grasped how good it feels to be on the other side. A simple "thanks for helping!" as you run by makes a huge difference.
What fun to be outside on a mid-summer Saturday morning. And the fact that it pushed my own long run into the heat of the day really didn't matter.