As a runner, I love participating and competing in races, and after volunteering at the Chicago Marathon, I am able to understand more about how a race works. I have been fortunate enough to run in a few half marathons, but a full marathon of 26.2 miles is my next goal. As a way to prepare despite the long hours of training, decided to volunteer at the marathon so I could see how the race is viewed as a runner and as a supporter.
While volunteering, I learned that a race without volunteers won't function. I volunteered with a student organization I am part of at DePaul called the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. Our group was in charge of the heat sheets. Once runners cross the finish line, they are given heat sheets and their primary purpose is so runners don't get cold too quickly once they stop running. Heatsheets are blankets that runners wrap around themselves enabling them to not turn numb after running.
Before delivering the heat sheets to runners, the day started at 5:20 a.m. where our group met at the Fullerton train station. That morning while leaving my apartment, it was cool and misty and I came prepared for the long day of volunteering. Once our group arrived at the volunteer check-in at Grant Park, we received our volunteer identifications and uniform.
The uniform for a volunteer was a nice maroon jacket with the Chicago Marathon logo on it. As a volunteer, it was one of the many perks that are offered. Afterward, our group went to the hospitality tent to fuel up before volunteering. Bananas, oranges, granola bars, fruit snacks, and other snacks gave our team the fuel we needed.
Once we were all set we headed to the finish line and started to unravel the heat sheets. Many other volunteers from other organizations helped. By this point, some of the participant waves started their race taking on the streets. Once the first few runners crossed the finish line, we finally gave them their heat sheets.
Once it hit noon, our shift was over and I had the chance within those few hours of volunteering to connect with other DePaul students, cheer on runners and support them along the way. This has inspired me to apply to run in the marathon next year, and I had so much fun despite the day being cold and having to wake up early. I encourage everyone to volunteer or cheer along the sidelines of the marathon because it was an unforgettable experience.