Every so often I'm spurred to repay some of my running debts by volunteering at a race. Such was the case today at the inaugural New Year's Day Half Marathon in Allen.
I was the course monitor at a somewhat tricky part of the course near the 2-/11-mile marker. With a wind chill in the low 20s, standing around for three hours was surely less desirable than actually running the race, but someone had to do it.
As a runner, I've always appreciated the volunteers for pretty much just this reason. Sometimes the weather's great and it's a short race and volunteering is just glamorized hanging-out. But most of the time, there's some level of work or discomfort, and to just get up early on a weekend and go do it is pretty remarkable.
But today I enjoyed seeing the relationship in reverse. No fewer than a dozen people gave me a whole "thanks for being out here this morning" (and this is in a race of 200 people, mind you), and many others gave a "thanks" or a wave or a smile. Probably fewer people didn't acknowledge me than did.
When I race, I am pretty much silent. Occasionally I'll say thanks to a police officer holding up traffic, or wave to an enthusiastic cheerer, but that's about it. Maybe it should be my resolution for 2011 to be more vocal toward the volunteers. All the cool kids are doing it.