Volunteering: The Other Side

Over the weekend, I volunteered at my first race. I have participated in 27 races, yet this was the first where I stepped to the other side and facilitated the runners.

At 38 weeks pregnant, that was really the only option.

wwp8k

Under normal circumstances, I would have just declined the race. The point for me is to run it. However, this particular race had ulterior motivations.

Ever since I returned from my short civilian deployment to Iraq in 2009, I have donated and supported in small ways here and there. Once I started running, I made it a goal to run a race that would benefit a charity like Wounded Warrior Project. I made several attempts at this goal, yet they all failed. So when the Wounded Warrior 8K came through, I resolved to participate–running or not.

It was definitely strange to be on the other side. I have been to my share of races and am familiar with all involved from the registration tent to the water station. However, I have never unloaded the truck with the bagels for the finish line or set up the cones marking the course. It changed the experience, the way working at a place always does.

Admittedly, I was envious of the runners the whole time. I caught myself peeking at their shirts and packets, evaluating the grade of the course and temperature of the morning, gauging where I would have fallen in the (back of) the pack. My body, my muscle memory wanted to be running the course instead of directing it, hearing the cheers instead of calling them out.

Yet if I couldn’t do what I wanted, it felt good to still be involved, still be part of it. I channeled my own memories of running. As the red-faced, panting runners came across the bridge into the final stretch, I yelled out phrases I loved to hear:

“Almost there!”

“Straight down the hill!”

“You can do it!”

I stood out there until the last family made their way toward the finish line; then I (very awkwardly) bent down to collect discarded water cups. And I was happy.

I paid dearly for standing for four hours while so pregnant. My hips and back were a mess for the rest of the day, but it was worth it. I was exhausted and inappropriately sore, but I had done something more than donate money.

I don’t think I would ever volunteer for just any run, just to be part of it. For me, it will always be cause specific. I may run for gimmicks, but I volunteer and fundraise for actual causes.

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About ChrstnaBergling

Colorado-bred writer, Christina Bergling knew she wanted to be an author in fourth grade. In college, she pursued a professional writing degree and started publishing small scale. With the realities of paying bills, she started working as a technical writer and document manager, traveling to Iraq as a contractor and eventually becoming a trainer and software developer. She avidly hosted multiple blogs on Iraq, bipolar, pregnancy, running. In 2015, she published two novellas. She is also featured in the horror collection Collected Christmas. Bergling is a mother of two young children and lives with her family in Colorado Springs. She spends her non-writing time running, doing yoga and barre, belly dancing, taking pictures, traveling, and sucking all the marrow out of life. View all posts by ChrstnaBergling

One response to “Volunteering: The Other Side

  • J.J. Hensley

    I think it’s great that you volunteered. I can only imagine (or, I probably CAN’T imagine) how uncomfortable it is to even stand for that long when nearing your due date. A lot of other people would have stayed home. Good for you!

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