A day in the life of a BHAA volunteer
A day in the life of a BHAA volunteer: Saturday 30th April 2011
Through a long and tenuous series of connections, I was asked if I had a few hours to spare on a Saturday morning to help out at the BHAA RTE 5 mile race.
Having been a runner for a couple of years, entering races or all sorts (commercial, charity, club and, of course, BHAA). I have always seen the organisation of races from the view point of someone pinning a number to their chest. I felt I had an opportunity to see the other half of the equation and to “give something back” as it were.
I am sure you are aware, the BHAA are seen as the best value races in town. For €10 for members and €15 non members, you are guaranteed a well organised race and a good spread of tea and cake afterwards. That’s quite a reputation to be entrusted with, so it was with a touch of apprehension I found myself parked in on the RTE campus in Donnybrook.
After finding my way into the Sports and Social building, I was introduced to Jimmy and Paul and given a brief run-through of the process for registering arriving members (with surnames M through Z). No sooner had we got settled down when our first ‘customer’ arrived. “That went well”, I thought to myself, “nothing too this”. Within half an hour the place was jammed full of eager runners looking to get their number, pins, and free pair of socks (???). Someone brought coffee round, I put a sugar in but I forgot to stir it. School boy error…
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Before we knew what hit us, 90 minutes of my Saturday morning had passed in a blur of surnames. (Apologies if I had to ask you twice, being a Scotsman, I am not up to speed with the spelling of Irish surnames). With around 15 minutes to the start of the race, the job was done, and we started taking bets on when the last person would show up. Duly, at two minutes to 11, the last person was registered (in the A-L section, so not on my watch).
So, downstairs to the race. The leaders were just completing their first lap by the time we got to the finishing area (after a quick briefing upstairs). The lads were flying. Pleased to see Paul up there, and to see that eventual winner Vinny Mulvey was in my registration section (don’t know why, but I was pleased with that!).
My next task for the day was to help runners remove the barcode tag from their race number so that the effervescent Mary could keep them in order. This system was a back up to the finishers’ sheets being filled in further up the chute. I was pre-warned that this was not a pleasant task; sweat, spit and drool were a spoken of in disgusted tones. In reality, I think it was scaremongering. Everyone coming through was in great form despite being completely wrecked. So many people were completing their first race today, and the joy and energy coming off them was a real buzz.
And so, whilst there is always a winner, someone also has to come last… In the end, we did not have to wait long. A determined effort saw the last runner cross the line to round of what appeared to be another great success in the BHAA story. I could rest easy in the knowledge that I had not messed up the reputation of this fine series.
For me, this was a great way to get involved on race day. Would I have rather had my gear on running? Yes, of course, but the schedule did not allow that. However, I can say for sure that at future BHAA races, if I am not pinning a race number to my chest, I will be behind the desk handing them out to the guys who are, surnames M-Z.