Picking up from last time –
I learned a couple of things that I think would make the day better for volunteers.
1) I did not realize how incredibly loud the finish line is for the volunteers who have to work there. I don’t know why that never dawned on me. Of course a finish line is loud. I think it would’ve been an incredibly lovely, thoughtful gesture to have earplugs available to us. (Or perhaps I should’ve thought ahead and brought my own. Either way, something to think about/remember for next time.)
2) I did not realize how much people relied on volunteers! Whenever I went anywhere other than the finish line (to use the restroom, to sign in/out of the volunteer tent, etc.), lots of people asked me questions! “Where is the half marathon finish line?” “What time does the marathon start?” “Where is the results tent?” And on and on. Since I had volunteer written huge across the back of my shirt, it makes sense to assume I might know what I’m doing.
The volunteers had tons of time in the volunteer tent in the morning, as we waited to go to our assignments. I think it’d be pretty rad if maybe they had some kind of mini-info session where we get an overview of the most often asked questions so we could actually be helpful when people are asking us things.
(Or it might be nice to have a little cheat sheet with that. I don’t believe in wasting paper, and I know not everyone has pockets. But I hated the feeling of not being able to help these frustrated, lost people just trying to not miss their racers’ big moments.)
3) Before the 5k started, 3 of us were picked out and told that we needed to tell the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place male and female that there would be an awards ceremony. And we’d explain where the VIP tent was, where they could go.
We weren’t assigned, “Okay, you do 1st. You do 2nd. You 3rd” – though with the frenzied finish line, I don’t know that that would’ve been the best answer (though it may have helped as long as we were good at communicating that 1st and 2nd had crossed).
When the winners were coming across, I was in the back of the two lines, and the other two winner-tellers were in the front (sort of boxed in with other volunteers). And the winners went pretty far past the finish line and seemed to just want to walk immediately (no stopping), so I’d grab them quickly on their way out.
Basically, I think since there were oh so many volunteers, we really could’ve almost each had a person (1nd 2nd and 3rd place male and female), and walked them all the way to the VIP tent – so they wouldn’t have to stop moving, and they wouldn’t have to try to comprehend instructions in their tired brains.
That may have been overkill. But it doesn’t hurt to consider it.
Anyway, that’s everything I took away from it! I did not imagine working a finish line would be such a worthwhile experience where I’d learn so much about behind-the-scenes race stuff, and making things better for runners, spectators, and volunteers. So, yay for all that!