I’ve always joked to myself that it’s probably harder being a volunteer than a competitor. Some of these guys are out in the hot sun for the whole day, from before sunrise to 17 or 18 hours later.
They stand on the sides of the road, feed us, protect us, and clean up our mess.
They paddle alongside us during our swims, corralling the lost back into line, and keep an eye on the stragglers who don’t look like they’re going to make it.
The patch us up when we get hurt, massage our legs when we cramp, and give us drinks and food when we bonk.
All as volunteers.
It may be a long shot, but I figure if I thank these volunteers, they’ll be a bit happier and they’ll do a better job. Maybe that will get paid back to me on my next lap around the course when we meet again, or in a future race.
Or maybe they’ll cheer for me next time around. Thanking them might be the equivalent of them cheering for us, and I think we all like that.
I thank the police, too. I’ve seen some excellent traffic management by police in places like Malaysia and Indonesia where cars seem to ignore the rules; where cars can just wander into the courses.
If the police feel appreciated and valued they’ll be all the more likely to want to support the race in future years, and spreading such goodwill can only be a good thing for all of us.
So the next time you run through an aid station, grab a special need bag, or pick up some jellybeans, thank that volunteer and do your part to show your appreciation, no matter how much pain you may be in.