October 11, 2009

Chicago Marathon Recap: The Eye Of A Volunteer

What a crazy day! Left the house at 5AM and it was FREEZING. Literally, it was 32 degrees. We went down to our station at mile 10.5 of the course to check in and get to work. Despite being cold, and pitch black, things began well. Got a sweet jacket, picked a Gatorade table and started setting up. Together with my friend, Patti, we took over the the third station from the end of Aid Station 7. Turns out resources were a bit limited - not enough mixing jugs for the Gatorade (which comes in a concentrate that we had to actually make). We had to share with the table next to us, and thats where it all started to go down hill.

The guy next to us declares that he is a "mixologist" (which means he bartends somewhere) and that he is the best one to make the Gatorade. The genius ended up making it wrong - too much concentrate and not enough water. After we had pretty much completed for stacked layers of filled Gatorade cups, we had to tear it all down. We took each cup, poured it back into the mixing containers, then added more water. We then had to re-do our table and the one next to us. The most irritating thing about this whole thing was that we had tried to tell them they were doing it wrong (in a nice way, of course). They snickered at us and told us we were making it "too diluted" and that "strong Gatorade was better then diluted Gatorade". We later heard them telling people that Gatorade is "way better on the more diluted side" and that of course, they would rather "have it be more watery than too concentrated". So Patti and I were pretty ticked and the morning was a rough one, but when the race started we were so excited it was pretty hard not to forget about the early AM drama (that doesnt mean it wasnt all we talked about AFTER the race).

It was cold all day and never warmed up. It was a pretty horrible situation for a volunteer, who had to stand there from 5:30 until 11:30 and freeze his/her tush off. I cant imagine the runners were too happy about it either. The male elite winner did break a course record, running the fastest time on US soil, but supposedly the conditions werent ripe for a new World Record. The woman's winner admitted it was too cold for the marathon ... and she is from Russia. Yes, it was that cold ;)

Anyway, after I thawed out I reflected on a great experience. Seeing the wheelchair and elite's was amazing and inspiring. Being a volunteer did get me excited about running again. Not that I'm gonna jump back on the marathon bandwagon, but I do hope to continue running and racing ... and promise to keep optimistic about the future ;)

I did take quite a few photos today and thought they might be worth sharing...

Congrats to my friends, Becca and Christina, on their awesome finishes today. You ladies rock!


Jamie said...

Thanks for helping us out there today! The race wouldn't be possible w/out people like you. Too bad the professional mixologist screwed everything up!

Jess said...

Sounds like it was fun! Great pics!

meanjean said...

running a marathon seems like a good idea, until the possibility of it being 32 degrees!!! Good job!

Hi! I'm Erin said...

I saw your comment on Kim's blog about volunteering. I was at a water station at mile 18. I thought my toes would never recover from the cold!!!

kilax said...

Hi! Thanks for your comment on my blog. :) It sounds like the beginning of volunteering was very frustrating. It's a good thing you remixed the Gatorade. It would have been way too strong! Do you think you will volunteer again?

You gotta a lot of great shots! :)

lifestudent said...

I would 100% do it again :) I wish I could sign up TODAY to assure myself a spot. It had its ups and downs, but overall was a great experience (and the jacket is pretty sweet too). How about you?

RunToTheFinish said...

wait he messed up gatorade...I know he was a volunteer but still grief would be given for that!

Cadence said...

Great shots of the Marathon, looks like you had fun.

Wanted to drop you a line about a running app I developed called Cadence.

It matches music from your iPhone or Touch music library to the speed you are running at. Helps you keep the pace. Its nice to hear music all at the same beat while you run,no speeding up and slowing down.
I also have a program that works on your Mac with your itunes library and then you can use any ipod device you have.



lifestudent said...

RunToTheFinish - Its funny, because my friend I volunteered with basically blamed him for the whole 2007 Chicago Marathon fiasco ;) She said it was (with the help of) volunteers like him that all the water was gone and there was so little direction or information that day.

We both wanted to smack him. Really bad. But we didnt :)