Sunday, June 8, 2014

"Crazy Can't Get Enough"

That's a quote from a Hoka One One ad. I read it this morning and instantly fell in love with it.

What's Crazy lately? I've been busy. I spent a week in Denver at a Trauma Touch class. I've been working a ton (which is fantastic). And I haven't put running shoes on since Mother's Day.

But I did just have the most amazing running-related experience yesterday at the Madison to Chicago Ragnar. I knew I wasn't going to run it when I calculated that I would be 6 months pregnant (!!) for the weekend. But I had a team I wanted to support, and actually missed participating in the event. So when I logged onto the Ragnar website I saw there was an extra-special volunteer opportunity. It's called the SWAT team.


The shifts range from 12 - 30 hours. Whomp. For the most intense involvement, rental cars, sleeping shifts, and hotel rooms are involved, as is lifting up to 45lbs. My max is 15 right now, so I knew I'd have to beg to be a part of the team.

A long internet application, 25 minute phone interview, and some confirmation details later, I was assigned a 12 hour shift in Lake Forest, IL at exchange 31. I was the exchange manager for this "minor exchange". The job started at 4:45am and ended at 5pm with no scheduled break. I was in charge of two six-hour shifts of 6 volunteers each who were all there to support other teams. I had a phone-training session, and a packet of pdf's and excel spreadsheets to review. I sent out all the confirmation emails and received messages back that every volunteer would be there.

I had a lot of trouble sleeping the night before. I woke up just before 3am to eat and pack my breakfast/lunch/dinner, drinks, snacks, water for myself and the volunteers, table, chairs, sunblock, giant hat, cowbells, etc. etc. etc. I skipped coffee and went straight to a small bottle of coke.

The day was beautiful. Partly cloudy, just barely 80 degrees, a great breeze coming off of the lake.

The volunteer t-shirt was adorable. Every volunteer showed up on time, with their own snacks and water packed, ready to work. They set up and did their jobs with SO much enthusiasm! They cheered on EVERY runner while directing traffic, runners, timing, and spectators. Things got pretty crazy for a few hours. Just when the heat started climbing, a gush of runners and vans and teams crushed into our tiny little parking lot. The volunteers kept their cool and never stopped shouting encouragement to the runners.

I checked on every position about once an hour, but they never needed anything more than a short potty break or a fresh bottle of water. I never once heard a complaint. They smiled through their entire 6-hour shift. Every person was amazing. When I asked, "Do you need anything? A break? How are you doing?" most of them told me they were fine, and asked how I was doing!! Some of the older women even instructed me to sit down and put my feet up for a while- they had everything handled.

And when the last runner passed our exchange we cheered as loudly for her as for the first one... 6 hours earlier. The clean-up crew broke everything down efficiently, and we left the parking lot cleaner than we found it. The Ragnar staff handled all of my questions almost instantly, with humor, professionalism, and gratitude toward me. We had every supply we needed, and never had to ask for refills.

I recommended the SWAT crew to a few runners who asked what job I was doing, and even encouraged some of the interested volunteers to apply for next year. I had such an amazing experience, I can't wait to volunteer again next year. Hopefully I'll be able to take on a bigger role- but even a "minor" exchange was a major experience.


1 comment:

Ali K. said...

I love that you did this. Now that I've run a Ragnar, looking into volunteering seems like a great way to give back and get ready for another!