This weekend in McKinney, Lisa and I decided to volunteer at an area 5K (and I must add that there was also a 15K race, but will come to this point later on) and help run a water stop. We figured that we’ve been by our fair share of water stops and doused many a volunteer with water as we have passed, so why not spend a Saturday morning giving back to our local community; sounds so wonderful doesn’t it? Well, let’s just say that we apparently are not cut out for the whole “volunteer” business. We’ve been told that what happened was like an episode of “I love Lucy”, and I would have to say I would agree. Forty-eight hours removed from the event and you can see the hilarity of the situation, but at the time it was just pure horror!
We started off our day with an overly excited and much disorganized meeting with all the volunteers but eventually ended up with a very nice couple who are new to the area to manage Water Stop #2! We all worked together and filled our mini Dixie cups (really? Mini Dixie cups for water on a race course? If I was handed a mini Dixie cup I’d probably throw it right back in someone’s face!) and are all prepared when we see the lead runner whiz by, and he really did whiz by! We are doing a great job of passing out water, avoiding the slash backs and keeping our trash picked up despite all the wind. It felt so good to watch all these people sweating as they passed us by and knowing that I had the day off from running. Eventually what we think is the last group of people (Key point here!) have come and gone and we find ourselves just sitting around waiting. So we all decide to be proactive and clean up and take the table and water jugs back to the starting point for the guy in charge. Now pay attention because timing is important right here: We dump the remaining cups of water out and throw those away. We are folding the table up because this guy has his truck ready to go. We have two big orange Gatorade buckets that still have water so we proceed to dump those out…. The table is half way into the truck and the last of the water has literally JUST been dumped into the grass when we see the bike leader of the 15K come around the corner yelling at us to get the water set back up. Let’s just pause and let that sink in for a minute because that’s what the water was doing in the grass as we were all dumbfounded and speechless staring blanking at Mark who is still yelling at us to get the water because there are 150 runners on mile 5 getting ready to pass us….This is about the time where you would hear the little bell ding and you hear the words, “want to get away?” pop up on the screen right? I only wish!
First of all, we had no idea that the 15K was starting after the 5K, or rather that they would be coming behind the 5K runners, we should have known, given we didn’t see some of the people we knew who were running in the 15K. We also knew the bike would be leading the 15K and still hadn’t seen that either, obviously we were not thinking clearly. In our defense, it wasn’t explained to us at all!! I must give kudos to the guy who had the truck, he was a quick thinker and he threw the jug in the back of his truck and took off – he found a guy out working on his yard and filled them up with a water hose and then was back within about 7 minutes! In the mean time, the guy on the bike had called another water stop to bring water and had gone to get a small jug of Gatorade that is set out for our running club on Saturday mornings. He brings the small jug back and the spout isn’t working so we are desperately trying to get the lid off and it won’t come undone…meanwhile, people are passing and asking for water, we felt so badly!!!
We finally recover, and have cups of water and are back on track of passing them out. We only missed about 5 people asking for water, so at least that wasn’t too terrible. But then we encounter the problem of running out of mini Dixie cups!!! Because they were MINI, lots of people were taking two, and I can’t blame them, however, we didn’t have enough for everyone to take two! So I did the unthinkable…. I dug in the trash and pulled out all those cups we had originally dumped out and we began reusing those. In our defense, we decided that if we were running a 15K and were on mile 5, we would not care if we were reusing a cup from the trash or even a cup that someone else had already used, we would just like some water. I’m not sure how many of the trash cups we actually gave out but we did have enough cups and we did successfully finish our water stop duties. On an even funnier side note, we apparently looked like a lemonade stand because we had two guys stop and ask how much the lemonade was…I’m not sure if it was the three ladies running the water stop or the true thought of lemonade that made them stop but it was amusing and they took free water instead.
So what have I learned from the water stop experience?
Number 1: Running races in McKinney is very unorganized and I probably will just stick with bigger events.
Number 2: NEVER assume! And if you think it’s over, it’s probably not!
Number 3: I’m probably more suited to actually run the races than I am for volunteering at the races. I don’t think I can officially say I will never volunteer ever again, but I can say I won’t be doing it any time soon, and by soon I mean like the next 10 years!
So with that, I will be running now and I will remember to thank the wonderful water stop helpers for all their hard work and dedication and try my absolute best not to toss my water on them! Off and running…