Last fall, I volunteered at the Twin Cities Marathon and loved it. Having run the race the year before, I wanted to give back to the marathon that made my dream come true. But I also wanted to experience being on the other side of the course as a volunteer. During the 2014 race, I was so thankful for the many selfless volunteers that cheered me on and supported me with a cup of water, encouraging words, or a warm blanket at the finish. They were angels along the course, making each step a little less painful.
For the 2015 race, I chose to volunteer at the finish line handing out heat blankets. It was so much fun to see the elite runners finish. They are so incredibly fast! But my favorite part was being at the finish and the first person to give my friend a huge hug when he qualified for Boston in an amazing time of 3:09.
By the end of the day, my feet were sore from standing all day (perhaps not a wise idea in retrospect, considering I had to run Chicago the following weekend!), and my voice was hoarse from congratulating thousands of runners, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. Seeing the looks of pride and happiness on runners’ faces was so special. Some finished in high spirits with huge smiles, the tears silently falling. Others finished exhausted beyond all reason, stumbling out of the finish area. But each runner had accomplished a feat that less than 1 percent of the population can say they have done, and my heart burst with pride for them.
It was an honor to congratulate and wrap a blanket around thousands of the 8,545 marathon finishers that day, and I was reminded all over again of just how special it is to be a runner.