Volunteering at a running race can inspire you to sign up for a race or push yourself harder in your next one, but it's also a great way to give back to the sport. Most road races couldn't happen without volunteers, so you're providing a vital service. You'll also better appreciate the volunteers the next time you're out there running. Here are some other excellent reasons to volunteer:
1. You can save money.
Many races offer perks to volunteers, such as free shirts, race entries, guaranteed entry for next year's race
, or access to post-race parties. Even if you want to run the race, it's still possible to volunteer. You could volunteer for a pre-race task, such as registration, and then run it for free.
Also see: How Runners Can Save Money
2. You can stay connected to running.
If you're recovering from an injury, volunteering at a race is an opportunity to stay connected to the running community and deal with the frustration of being sidelined. The energy and excitement you feel at the race will keep you motivated and focused on your recovery.
Also see: How to Survive the Emotional Side of Running Injuries
3. You can meet other runners.
Volunteering is a good opportunity to make new running friends and possible running partners, since most volunteers are likely to have an interest in running. I know some runners who met a future mate as they handed out water together at a marathon.
Also see: 5 Ways to Be a More Social Runner
4. You can get a great view of the action.
At some big city, crowded races, it can be tough to get a good position on the course, especially at the finish line. But volunteers can get front row access at water stops
or at the finish line handing out medals. If you like follow elite runners, volunteering is a great way to get a closer look at them in action.
5. You can share your talents.Race directors are always looking for help, so ask about other opportunities to share your skills or talents. If you're a medical professional, you can volunteer at an aid station along the course or at the finish line. If you're musically talented, you can sing the national anthem at the start. I have friends who have designed race T-shirts or helped create a website to publicize the race. A pastor at a church in my area does a blessing at the start of the New York City Marathon every year. There are countless ways to get involved -- just get in touch with the race director or running club organizing the race and see how you can help.