Fun fact: I grew up so close to the Boston Marathon route that I could watch the race from my bedroom window. Other than the years I was away for college, I’ve spectated at pretty much every race. Even before running became a part of my life, I knew there was something really special about Marathon Monday. So when I had the opportunity to participate in this year’s race as a hydration station volunteer with my marathon training buddies (hayy Boston Fit!) I jumped on it. A cool free jacket and a chance to be part of the big day? Yes please!
Our day started bright and early with a green line trek out to Mile 21 of the race, where our station was located. This is a really cool part of the course, since runners have just finished climbing the famous Heartbreak Hill. After a quick pep talk, we separated out into Gatorade and water tables–my buddy Bry and I decided to take one for the team and man one of the Gatorade tables. Nothin’ like a dousing in sticky Gatorade to get you up and moving!
After setting up and filling several hundred cups, we took a quick break to chow down on our packed lunches and then lined up in front of the tables. We knew once the runners started coming they wouldn’t stop, so we had to be ready to roll! Each long folding table had two volunteers handing out cups to runners and one person in back restocking the table. I was super impressed at the organization of the whole operation–everyone was fantastic and our volunteer coordinators were true pros.
The rest of the afternoon was a busy, crazy blur–it was really hot and windy out, so our jobs were even more important than usual. We had a blast alternately cheering and screaming “GATORADE!” so many times the word lost meaning. Word to the wise for my fellow runners–when you’re going for a cup of water, try to point and/or lock eyes with the hydration station volunteer so that they can put the cup right into your hand. You’ll be much more likely to actually get your hand around the cup on the first try!
Overall, volunteering was incredible. You get to be up close and personal with the race participants (I saw pretty much every runner friend I was looking for–definitely a first) and you’re providing a critical service. Everyone was so lovely and appreciative of our help!!
As I alluded to in the title, my day took a turn and I had to leave my volunteer post a bit early. My brother, who is an incredible athlete and had been gunning for a sub-3 hour race, collapsed just before the finish line and was carried over by a couple of fellow runners. He was brought to the ICU and is being closely monitored there–but things are looking good and hopefully he’ll be out soon.
The nutty part is that the photo of him being carried across the finish line went viral via a tweet from Meb (!!!) and then all over pretty much every news outlet and more including on the front page of the Boston Globe. Here’s more of what went down from his perspective. I think that the moral of the story is that we all are fallible, and it’s really important to listen to your body. We’re so appreciative of the amazing runners who helped Ari finish the race, and are especially grateful for the care he’s receiving at Tufts Medical Center. Thanks to those who have reached out for your support!
All in all, it was a hectic day but I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to be a BAA volunteer and of course that my brother is gonna be ok. Like Ari said, “I’m glad that there will be 30,000 people [running] next year and whether I’m one of them or not, so be it. I hope I am. If I’m not, I’ll be out cheering on the sidelines.”