By Jennifer West DuVall
I’ve been handed water and pointed in the right direction by many people in many different races, but every one of those people have one thing in common. They are volunteers. Over time, I have come to realize that volunteers are just as important to a race as participants.
I’ve volunteered at 5Ks, handing out water and cheering everyone on (what better way to say hi to everyone!). I’ve helped at aid stations for ultramarathons to make sure runners have fuel to keep going. I’ve been the friendly volunteer making sure runners stay on the correct course and don’t turn that 10K into an 11K. As a volunteer, I know that I am helping out the runners as well as the event organizers and the fundraising mission of the race.
Last year, I stepped into a different role with the JCB Mud Run. I became the volunteer coordinator, and I now have an enormous appreciation for volunteers. The JCB Mud Run is about 5 miles long, but it’s very different from a 5 mile road race. We need lots of volunteers to be out on the course at different obstacles, at one of our 5 water stops, or at hand and eye washing stations. Our volunteers not only cheer people on, but they keep runners on the right course and are able to contact medical staff on-site if a participant needs it. They are the eyes and ears of the race. In a word, our volunteers are essential.
The JCB Mud Run is coming up on June 20th. If you have never volunteered for a race before, consider volunteering at this one! You can fill out the volunteer form at www.jcbmudfest.com/volunteer or reach Jennifer at firstname.lastname@example.org. The JCB Mud Run’s entire proceeds go to the Lady Bamford Early Learning Center (LINK TO http://www.wesleyctrs-savh.org/Our-Programs/Lady-Bamford-Early-Learning-Center), a much-needed facility in West Chatham that provides childcare and education for infants 6 weeks old up to pre-K. And if June 20th doesn’t work for your schedule, pick a race or two in the coming year to volunteer at. It’s worth postponing your long run to a Sunday to be on the other much- appreciated and very important side of a race.
If you look up the idiom "on-the-run", it means to constantly travel or moving from place to place. Welcome to my life! I get asked the question - "Do you ever sleep?" at least once a week. The truth is - I am always on the run. My weeks are filled with work, training runs, dropping kids off to school and extra curricular activities, traveling out-of-town for races and soccer games, theatre rehearsals, civic duties - you name it. In addition to being an avid runner, I'm a happily married wife, mother of two, an actress, singer, a Fleet Feet CREW coach, and work full time as the Marketing Manager for Thomas & Hutton Engineering Co. I love being on the run!