Try New Things Tuesday: Volunteering At A Race!

Hi everyone!  Thanks for your comments on yesterday’s post, it’s good to know I’m not alone in finishing only a few seconds away from my goal time!  Now for something I haven’t done in a while:  Try New Things Tuesday!  This week I’m going to talk about volunteering at the Hot Chocolate 5k/15k packet pickup!



Why did I decide to volunteer for the Hot Chocolate race series?  I’ve honestly been thinking about volunteering for races in the past, but for some reason I never think to actually sign up to do it.  Probably because all the races I think about volunteering for are the ones I’m already running in!  But after the Love Run Half Marathon a week ago all I could think about was those poor volunteers who had to stand out in the freezing cold rain cheering for us and handing us water for hours.  Sure, running that race was tough and uncomfortable, but I’m sure standing in the rain for hours was even worse!  But somehow they did it with a smile on their faces and I seriously couldn’t have done it without them.  So when I got an email a few days after the Love Run asking for volunteers for the Hot Chocolate race series, I decided to check it out.  It turns out that even though I couldn’t volunteer on race day since I was running it, there were opportunities for me to volunteer for packet pickup, especially since I was off work last week and could do an earlier shift!  Plus I noticed that volunteers got a free shirt!  I’m a sucker for free things!

volunteer shirts

I got the long sleeved shirt at the top, which is really comfy and roomy!  Anyways, last Friday I headed over to Philadelphia Runner in Glen Mills to work packet pickup from 1:30-6:30.  I thought that was a pretty long shift, but I was definitely willing to help out!  I was a bit intimidated when I first arrived because the store was pretty busy and I had to jump into it right away.  There were 3 other girls volunteering and they helped me learn the ropes!  My task was to greet the runners and ask for either their last name or an email that I could scan into the system.  After looking them up, the computer told me what corral they were assigned to.  I had to pick a random bib from their corral, scan it, and then their name would print out on a sticker and I would put it on the back of their race bib for ID.  I then had to check the sticker for the size they had registered for.  Each runner got a pre-packed drawstring bag with their race hoodie and bib pins inside.  All I had to do was put their bib inside the bag and add a mug if they had used a promo code when registering, and I was done!  90% of the time it took me only 30 seconds to complete the entire thing!  I also had to remind each runner that there was a table full of free chocolate by the door and that Philadelphia Runner was offering 10% off their entire purchase!  I could tell that most of the runners were happy with the process and enjoyed the free chocolate and the discount at the store.

Unfortunately there were a few runners that did not make my job easy.  There were many people who complained about the early race start and seemed to be offended that the suggested arrival time was 6:30.  I actually had to remind a few people that I did not work for the race company because they were so mad at me!  I just feel like when you register for a race in any large city you will probably need to arrive early to find parking and I would never get mad at race staff or volunteers over that!  The worst incident of the day involved one runner who was offended that he was in corral I and felt that he should be in corral A.  Unfortunately the corrals were A-H for the 5k and I-O for the 15k but he didn’t seem to understand that he was actually in fact in the first corral of the 15k and got pretty angry at the volunteers and race staff over his corral placement.  I felt really bad for the race employee that had to feel his wrath for 5 minutes.  Luckily he was the only truly angry person that we met that day and everything else went smoothly!

I really enjoyed meeting other volunteers and talking to them about running.  I have no runner friends so it was nice talking about my favorite races and the ones I’m signed up for in the future.  I also met a lot of volunteers and runners who had run the Love Run and we had fun talking about how crazy the race conditions were!

So how did I like volunteering at a race?  I give it 5 out of 5 stars!

What I loved:

  • Giving back to the running community.  Most runners don’t give any thought to the volunteers who help make every race possible, and I wanted to change that!  I’ll definitely never look at packet pickup the same way again!
  • Meeting lots of new runners and getting to wish them all good luck!
  • Getting free stuff for volunteering!  I not only got that free shirt but tons of free chocolate as well!
  • Learning more about the logistics of putting on a race.

What I didn’t like:

  • Dealing with the very few amount of people who were rude and miserable.  I know from working in retail that this is unavoidable when you work with the public, but I was hoping that all the runners would be too excited about running for chocolate that they wouldn’t yell at me!

I would definitely recommend volunteering at a local race, especially if you’ve never done it before!  It’s such a fun way to get involved without having to stress about actually running the race.

Hot-Chocolate-BannerThanks Hot Chocolate 5k/15k for letting me volunteer!

But the best part of the day was when one of the race employees told me that Philadelphia Runner was offering a whopping 25% off all merchandise for volunteers instead of the 10% that everyone else was getting!  I took a peek at the stability shoe section of the store and one employee came over to briefly talk to me about my running shoe needs.  I mentioned that my shoes were still okay but I’d need to replace them soon and the Mizuno Wave Inspire 9s were sold out everywhere online so I didn’t know what to do.  He promised that after packet pickup ended he would help me find a shoe that would replace my Mizunos, so once I finished working at 6:30 we sat down to figure out what kind of shoe I was looking for.  I swear this guy was some kind of magical running shoe guru because he was so incredibly helpful!  He watched me walk across the store and when I returned he not only confirmed that I overpronate, but asked if my left foot hurts more than my right.  I was shocked that he could tell that just by watching me walk for 5 seconds!  He then had me try on the Mizuno Wave Inspire 10s (so much more narrow and not as comfy), some Brooks shoes (weird arch support that my feet did not like), some Asics, and then finally a pair of Adidas Supernova Glide 6 shoes.  At first I was skeptical about buying Adidas running shoes – I think the last time I owned Adidas shoes I was in middle school!  But I couldn’t ignore the fact that the shoes were super comfy and fit really well.  He let me run up and down the sidewalk outside the store and when I came back he was smiling at me like he could tell they were the ones.  Even though they weren’t the cutest shoes in the store I could just tell they were the best shoes in the store for my crazy feet.  And it didn’t hurt that I had a 25% discount either!


So here they are!  My new kicks!  I’m sad that they are such a bland color after buying bright pink and blue shoes in the past, but they do have really bright laces so that helps!  And my practical husband says that now they’ll go with more of my stuff.  He’s so good at finding the positives!  I also did a bit of research once I got home and it turns out that the Adidas Boost shoes have some kind of super awesome shoe technology and they’re actually really nice shoes.  In fact, Runner’s World Magazine just named them the Editor’s Choice Award winner in their spring shoe guide!  So I’m glad I’m giving them a try!


Although technically I shouldn’t be able to return them after wearing them, the amazing employee whispered to me that I could try them out over the next 2 weeks and return them if I didn’t like them.  So I decided to try them out for a short 1 miler on the treadmill on Saturday.  I love how comfy they are and think that I might actually like how they feel more than my Mizunos!  Only time will tell, so I’ll keep trying them out on shorter runs and keep you all updated!

Have you ever volunteered at a race or packet pickup?  Who else is buying new shoes right now?

28 thoughts on “Try New Things Tuesday: Volunteering At A Race!

  1. Yay new running shoes! For me, the worst part of race volunteering is the rude runners who take out their frustrations on you. I had a few runners give me a hard time at a race in Novemeber, so now I make an extra effort to be nice and thank the volunteers. Especially when raining!

    1. Yes! I will never look at volunteers the same way again. Not that I was ever mean or rude, but now I just know how much they go through from other runners!

  2. I’m at a point where I need to look into new shoes. Brooks changed their Pure Flow’s that I’ve been running in the last year or so recently, so I’m thinking of switching to tri specific running shoes and giving Zoot a shot at my love. And I’ll volunteering at my first race in September- Ironman Chattanooga!

    1. Yay to new shoes! I liked trying on a bunch because they all fit so differently it’s crazy. I don’t understand why shoe companies have to make so many changes to new versions of their shoes. I would have been a Mizuno fan for life if they would have kept the shoe kind of the same! And have fun volunteering! Hopefully you don’t get any crazies!

  3. I can’t believe people are rude to race volunteers! I don’t know why that shocks me so much (I worked in customer service for a while), but I guess it’s because I’m always so thankful for them. I’m glad you had a good overall experience, volunteering is one of my running resolutions, thanks for the reminder.

    1. I actually felt the same way! I used to work in retail and I know how people can get, but I never expected that at a race towards a volunteer! Some people are crazy! You should definitely still do it because overall I loved the experience!

  4. I have really enjoyed volunteering too. I bring my pre-teen son along and we have a great time. The rude people suck, but fortunately those aren’t the majority.

    1. What an awesome idea! I should probably get my husband involved next time! And yes I’m glad they aren’t the majority!

  5. So cool that you volunteered and enjoyed it! Sucks that there always has to be some miserable people to bring down the experience a bit, but such is life I guess. I haven’t volunteered for a race yet, but I’m required to for the race series that my run club puts on. I’ll be helping out at a couple coming up I think. 🙂

    Cool new shoes too! I like the laces. 🙂

    1. Yeah luckily we just laughed about it after they left! I guess there will always be miserable people everywhere you go. Have fun volunteering!

    1. Haha I know right? There were way cuter ones at the store but they didn’t fit so I’m glad I don’t buy shoes based on looks. At least these aren’t bad!

  6. Very cool to volunteer for a race! I once volunteered at a local 5k to help direct people along the course. It was super fun and nice to participate in a race as something other than a runner!

    1. They were so helpful! I definitely recommend going to a smaller store to get fitted. I didn’t have this experience at all when I went to Road Runner Sports!

  7. This post totally confirmed my need to volunteer for a race, and not simply because I love free stuff 😉
    But I can’t believe how rude people were to you and the other volunteers! As if it’s your fault for the early start. I don’t think I’ve ever complained to a volunteer before, I’m always too happy to be racing 🙂

    1. Yay do it! And yeah, why would anyone think I was responsible for the race start time? I don’t think people are thinking clearly sometimes!

  8. I’d like to volunteer for a race someday–I’ve worked in retail before and angry customers are the worst. I imagine that’s similar to angry runners at expos lol!

    Cute new shoes too!

  9. Angry runner guy must have felt real stupid when he realized at race time that he was in the front coral for his group. I would never have thought that volunteers get hooked up so well! Nice score :0)

    1. Haha I know! I wish I knew his name so I could find out if he was really as fast as he thought he was!

  10. Love the new running shoes! And volunteering is always a blast! Sorry you had to deal with some rude people…but they are everywhere unfortunately. LOVE that you got such a cute shirt for volunteering!

    1. Yeah they really are. I was hoping runners would be better but I guess not! And yeah I love the shirt! I’ll do anything for free stuff!

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