On Volunteering.

I’m going to come out and say it—volunteering blows.

Now, before you get all judgy-wudgy and tell me I’m a bad person and deserve a warm spot in the pits of hell, let me explain why as I have just come home from a long day of volunteering for the New York Road Runners Grete’s Great Gallop half marathon in Central Park.

I’ve done my fair share of volunteering whether it be in a nursery, soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or what have you. And normally, you’re left feeling better about things and thinking, ‘Congratulations, self. You’ve done well today in helping others.’

Volunteering for a race is completely different—you’ve just become a verbal punching bag for a minimum of three hours.

With that said, I think I’ll just make this brief with bullet points (this will also bring me down from my rage).

Ready? Good.

1. Bikers are ass holes. I know, you already knew this. I agree that perhaps NYRR should have chosen a more optimal time for a half marathon (this race started at 10:30 a.m.). And on a day slated for sunny skies and a high of 70, this made for even worse conditions as tourists and families would venture in the park for a glorious fall day. Guess what? I don’t work at NYRR. So don’t come blasting by me with a giant, “FUCK YOU!” when I’m simply telling you to stay on the right hand side of the cones. It’s my job. And for you to react so vehemently is, frankly, ridiculous. It’s 11:00 a.m. on a Sunday. Did I just deserve that? No. Shout out to the racer who threw his hands up when he overheard.

Yes, kind sir, that actually happened.

Side note: I recognized that gem of a biker from him shouting another huge, “FUCK YOU!” to my friends and I on the West Side Highway during our run to City Bakery. Sir, get off the bike. You have more road rage than I did when I had a car in North Carolina.

2. Runners are ass holes. Yes, I know. I’ve been there. You’re left with running in a small lane on the Park Drive or on the bridle path. And all while trying to be a considerate runner, you’re getting shouted at by volunteers (me) while also getting shouted at by bikers. I get it, you’re irritated. But guess what? There’s a race. As a runner myself, I know to steer clear of Central Park when I know there’s a race going on, whether it be a running race, a triathlon, or bike race. Sure it throws a wrench in your plans, but better to be running happy than violently pissed off at everything that comes across your path. To the girl who told me she was ignoring me, I hope you got bitched out by the pace car that I was trying to protect you from a mere ½ mile ahead of you.

Yes, that too happened.

3. I’m a volunteer. For the love of all things holy, if you are venturing out for your morning jog or bike ride, stop screaming at the people wearing orange vests. WE ARE VOLUNTEERS. We chose to wake up and help racers. We are not Mary Wittenburg or members of the NYRR team. Not me wearing the orange vest that says “VOLUNTEER”. Or the person a half mile up in front of me. We’re doing this so we can get a guaranteed entry into the 2013 New York City Marathon.

All in all, this was a fantastic race for runners. The weather was optimal (it wasn’t even sunny until noon, hooray!), and I saw no injuries or illness in the two loops of the park that I saw you. That is FANTASTIC. Congratulations, racers! Yes, that was me shouting, “You’re about to be half marathoners! Make your friends buy you drinks!”, because, well, that’s what we’re here for.

So, what did I learn today? Everyone’s a critic, even when you’re acting a delight. Children are awesome—I had a cheer squad consisting of three 5 year old girls bringing smiles to all the racers at mile 11. And most importantly, I will always thank a volunteer during every race. It’s admirable that you rolled out of bed to stand in the cold, wind, rain, heat, or whatever the weather may be, to try to make things easy-going for the people who worked so hard to accomplish the mileage. You’re heroes in your own right and deserved to be recognized.

For all the other jerks who go about saying, “UGHHHH there’s ANOTHER Road Runners race in the Park,” I simply say to you, GTFO. Take the attitude somewhere else because it’s not about you. It’s about the people who trained and put in the effort to be there.

Congratulations to all of the Gallopers in Central Park today. I hope you’re celebrating accordingly.

12 responses to “On Volunteering.

  1. Thank you SO much for volunteering today! It was my first half-marathon and I was just so excited to be out there. I’m so sorry that anyone would treat volunteers rudely when they make it possible to have such a seamless, awesome race. Your friends should be buying YOU drinks! Thanks 🙂

  2. It’s not the cyclists in Central Park that are assholes. It’s not the runners either. It’s the NEW YORKERS that are the problem

  3. Did you at least get thanked by some of the runners in the race? I always try to thank as many volunteers as possible and was shocked when I did my +1 and realized that I am in a tiny, tiny minority of racers.

    • I did! After some of the other volunteers and I were walking to check out, a racer passed us and thanked us. We were elated after being scolded/slaughtered by bikers.

  4. I see others already thanked you for your work, but one more cannot hurt! THANK YOU! It is sad that some New Yorkers, cyclists, runners, or otherwise, are so rude. It is worse when they think it’s something to be proud of.

  5. oh my gosh, +10000000 to this! Seriously, if you know there’s a race going on in the Park or see it, THEN GO TO THE WSH OR 9W, BIKERS. IT’S NOT THAT DIFFICULT. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO STAY IN THE PARK. Idiots. And really, the same for runners not racing that get annoyed with all the people. That must have been a long/tough race to volunteer for!! Good work, my friend.

  6. I never understand how people get so territorial about PUBLIC PLACES. Yes, I’m a local and think of it as “my” park…but that also means it belongs to bikers and tourists. Can’t we all just get along?

  7. Pingback: 085 Grete’s Gallop 1/2 Mary – 1:20:53 | beyond defeat·

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