2010 Patrick Henry Half Marathon – Volunteer Report

An amazing volunteer experience at the Patrick Henry Half Marathon in Ashland, VA. Big shout out to Richmond Road Runners Club & SportsBackers for coordinating an awesome race.

It’s obvious they’ve been putting on races for years because they nailed almost every aspect of the volunteer experience. Although, I did find 2 things they could do better…

Night. And. Day… compared to my previous two volunteer experiences (Rockett’s Landing TriPink Power Tri)

Volunteers for the Patrick Henry Half Marathon had a great experience, thanks to the Richmond Road Runner’s Club & the SportsBackers.

Pre-race email

In less than 24 hours from when I signed up to volunteer, I received a detailed email from the volunteer coordinator. This email contained the following:

  • the name of my specific aid station coordinator
  • the name & cell phone number of the overall aid station coordinator
  • directions to the aid station
  • instructions on parking
  • a brief description of what I’d be doing (filling cups, handing them out, cheering on runners)

I can’t say enough about great communication. My hat goes off to Lisa Randolph at the SportsBackers for a well-planned, well-executed pre-race email. (There was one thing she forgot, but I’ll detail that at the end.)

A common sense approach to race morning

The volunteers were extremely efficient on race morning. A few, key decisions contributed to our success:

  • We went directly to our assigned aid station. There was no check-in required at the S/F area.
  • We showed up at 6:30 for a race that started at 7:00. No need to get there super-early and stand around for an hour or two.

I know. That’s why I called it a “common sense” approach.

We had all the cups that we would need (for all 1400 runners) filled up & ready to go 10 minutes before the first runner came through.

A coordinator who coordinates

Our coordinator actually instructed us on what to do.

“For those of you who may not have done this before, spread out in a line, hold your cup at the top with your hand directly above the cup, let them know we only have water here, no powerade…”

A few more aid station tips

I previously posted a list of aid station tips for both volunteers & race coordinators. Here are a few more that could fall in either category:

  • The elites run fast. And they will not slow down for water. Therefore, have multiple people – spread far apart – with cups of water. This will give them multiple chances to grab a cup in case they drop the first couple.
  • Use pitchers to dip into the large gatorade jugs, and fill the individual cups. It’s quicker than using the nozzle on the gatorade jugs.
  • Use cardboard or posterboard to place on top of cups on the table. This allows you to stack cups in multiple layers, and potentially fill up all the cups you’ll need for the entire race… before the race even starts.

Clean up, pack up & call it a day

As soon as the last runner came through, the Richmond Road Runners truck was right behind them, ready to pick up our supplies.

We had our trash ready to go. We just emptied a few cups, broke down the tables & loaded up the truck.

The Diamond Springs truck was right behind the Road Runners. He picked up the extra (and the empty) water jugs.

Then some guy dropped off a few volunteer t-shirts for us, and we were done… at 8:30. Only 2 hours after we had arrived.

Big thanks to the RRRC & SportsBackers for 2 of the most efficient, well spent hours of my life. Well done, guys.

The 2 things they forgot

They did a great job, but what good is it if I don’t have any constructive criticism? Here are the two things they forgot:

  • Ice. They forgot about the Iceman. Never forget the Iceman.
  • Directions on how to get home, since many roads were blocked for the race.
    Since we were finished at 8:30, and many runners were still out on the course, most of the roads were blocked. We couldn’t take the same route that we used to get there. A map of the closed roads, or directions on how to get back to the interstate, would have been nice (especially for the directionally challenged, like myself).

3 thoughts on “2010 Patrick Henry Half Marathon – Volunteer Report”

  1. SWEET! Now I’m sorry I didn’t volunteer with you!

    Except for the forgetting of the ICEMAN. I can’t imagine how they forgot that detail. You’re ready to run your own volunteers at race now, true?

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