Sunday, January 19, 2014

Houston Marathon 2014 – from a volunteer’s viewpoint

Today I volunteered at the Houston Marathon 2014 with a few of my friends, and WOW what an event!

I started around 4:30 am in the morning from my house to be a part of the race crew at Gatorade station which was located at 4 miles from the starting point. I was told by our crew captain that we as volunteers will be setting up tables and will have to fill around 10,000 cups with Gatorade and water for the runners by 7 am. Total number of runners registered to participate in the race was around 30,000. 

The first group of runners who arrived were from an elite group who were running very fast! They did not care for Gatorade or water and just passed by like a fast train. First to arrive were male runners; 10-15 of them and then female elite runners – super men and women.

In another 20 minutes or so, more runners started reaching our station and a few of them asked for
cups of water or Gatorade while running at around 8-9 miles per hour.  By quarter to nine, I noticed a surge in number of marathoners reaching our station. At least 100 volunteers like me were furiously working on handing them cups of Gatorade. Boy, that was too much to handle, and cups were vanishing very quickly without proper planning – that’s when I realized why our crew captain instructed us to stack cups in four layers.

Our work at that station was finished by 8:30 am. The Houston waste management company sent their vehicle and people to help clean the road and collect all the trash. The road was open for traffic by 9 am or so.  At that time,  a couple of other friends and I decided to head out to grab some breakfast at a place near the 22nd milestone. We sat in an outdoor area of the café watching the runners pass by while having an omelet, pancakes and coffee. There was a band playing to boost up the morale of all the runners along with people cheering from the sides.

The 42nd running of the Houston Marathon, the largest single day sporting event held in the city, culminated at George Brown center when an Ethiopian Bazu Worku took home the men’s victory with a dominant time of two hours, seven minutes and 32 seconds.  It was an exciting completion of the race, as another Ethiopian Abebech Bekele made a late surge and stole the victory on the women’s side, amassing an impressive time of  two hours, eighteen minutes and 27 seconds.

In the end, I would say that spectators, volunteers, crew and officials who took part in today's half marathon and marathon, made the event truly amazing and memorable! Great job to everyone who came and helped out! 

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