Atlanta, GA 11/24/2011
The day before the race:
I volunteered to hand out shirts for this race. This is a big race with ~14000 people signed up – most for the half marathon, but also a 5k, and some kids runs too; think they said they needed around 1200 volunteers – I had the 2:00-6:00 PM shift and was assigned to MENS XL & XXL tables. As it turned out, these were pretty good tables to be assigned to because there was a big snafu with the order (either they messed up the order or the vendor did not ship the right things???). They ran out of MENS small & medium and WOMENS medium, large. These ran out with thousands of more people yet to show up. It was very interesting watching how people reacted to this news: it ranged from folks taking it in stride to folks reacting in a way that would make you think this was pretty near to the end of the world! Granted, if you put down medium on the form, you expect to have a medium when you pick it up. A few of them actually chewed my butt out basically just because I was behind a table with shirts on it – but, but I’m just a volunteer!!! They did offer to take name & address and send at later time – but some people even complained about that.
As this was a four hour shift, you get to know the folks you are volunteering with a little bit. The guy I that was assigned to these tables with was a soft spoken 82 year old man. He was a nice guy, very easy going and was very good with our frustrated ‘customers’. His name – Clarence Hartley. As it turns out, Runners World had an article on him in their 3/30/2011 issue
It was really great getting to meet and talk with him for those few hours.
The day of the race:
Up at a ridiculous hour, it was 3 something… the usual, coffee, peanut butter on a bagel, listen to race day medley (Rocky themes, Chariots of Fire,…). Although the race started at 7:30 AM ( my corral was slated to start at 7:50), I needed to be down there at 5:30 – I volunteered to help out with Corral E ( I was in Corral E for the race – that last Corral) - the website said you could volunteer for this job if you were running, so I did. Once again, I learned a lot. For instance, there appears to be this whole sub culture of volunteers (who are not runners/walkers). I was not aware of this – heck I‘d never even thought about it. There were 8-10 volunteers for Corral E and a Crew Leader/Coordinator. Most of them knew each other already from all of these other races that they volunteered for. One woman was telling me, this was her 8th race this year, has one more in December, a Jingle Jog, and then will take off until March. Wow! I was just not aware of this – but they talked about races the same way runners/walkers would except they worked the races. Oh yeah, corralling people is a lot harder than it looks :) I ran into some people (my life is over because you are out of medium shirts type from the day before) that had such an attitude. They had no appreciation that it actually takes some thought, process, and procedure to move thousands of people to the starting line in an organized manner. And they did not hesitate to take it out on me and let me know how stupid this was… Wow!
Last year this was the first race I did after making the decision to get off the couch and do something for fitness & health – so it is a special race.
Although I am beginning to prefer smaller (fewer people) races & trail races, it won’t surprise me to continue doing this race just because. The race went all over downtown Atlanta, exactly the same route it did last year. Temperature was in the 40s, no wind, no clouds – perfect! I felt good the entire race, stayed in the heart rate range that I wanted to, and really enjoyed the entire race. They gave out Jelly Belly Sports Beans at mile 8, and plenty of water, Powerade, porta-potties every 2 miles. With so many people, was never alone for the entire 13.1 miles. There were a lot of people watching the race. I saw one sign that stood out in my mind it said “Worse Parade Ever”. Good one.
Time was 2:43:28. They had bagels, bananas, pretzels, water, Powerade, at the end – standard stuff.
The best part, as plenty of calories were burned, this made way for many Thanksgiving Day calories to be consumed! :)