Turning My Kids Into Future Race Directors

Yesterday was my first day “off” in a whole week! My first rest day! I did 9 workouts in 7 days and then didn’t do SHIT yesterday and it felt great! What did NOT feel great was the incredible amount of binging I did as I was just so damn tired and when I’m tired all I can think to do is eat. So, you know, Yay! for consistent workouts! But Boo! for eating my weight in french fries!

Our town has a big race every Memorial Day. It’s the Cotton Row 10K. There’s a 5K and a 1-mile fun run too, but the big event is the 10K as it’s been running for 30+ years and it involves this fantastic hill that is so steep the road has actually been graded (grated?) to provide better traction for cars. It’s basically 3 miles uphill, and then 3 miles downhill. I was trying to do it in sub-56 minutes for several years (bake in the day they only gave out participation items if you did it under 56 minutes) and finally met that goal last year so this year I decided to finally give back to the event and volunteer. Nikki and I worked packet pickup (which we do for a lot of races, she loves packet pickup) on Sunday and then we all sat at the 5-mile mark yesterday calling out split times for runners. It was pretty great and it always makes me feel good to get my kids out volunteering at races because I want them to understand how many people it takes to get these races going. If you’ve ever run a local event but haven’t volunteered, try to find a way to do that, it will be eye-opening.

Packet Pickup on Sunday
Packet Pickup on Sunday
Split Timing at Mile 5
Split Timing at Mile 5
Split Timing at Mile 5
Split Timing at Mile 5

We have two ways to be “in the loop” for volunteer opportunities in our community. One is our Huntsville Track Club. It’s very cheap and I’m a member and some of the opportunities come from emails with them. BUT – most of the requests for volunteers pop up in a Facebook Group a local person started years ago: We Run Huntsville. It’s a “closed” group, but he lets anyone who is a real human join. It’s actually a pretty great resource all around for group runs and advice seeking, but that’s where I see people post requests and online signups for volunteer opportunities. I tell the kids that I like to volunteer more times per year than races I actually participate in so that, in some way, I’m balancing things out on the side of me giving back more than I take.

Nikki LOVES to volunteer. She just loves feeling like a grown-up and being a part of a big group trying to accomplish something. She actually cried a few weeks ago because Wes and I were going to volunteer at a race and she couldn’t help because she had a soccer game. I can’t tell if Wes actually likes it or not, he usually just plays on his DS but at least he shows up and knows there are people involved with these events that do it just because they want to help. We’ll see if he becomes more involved as he gets older.

I don’t do a lot of volunteering at the kid’s school. I tried this year but failed miserably and have probably been put on “banned” lists at this school for the rest of my life. BUT! I do a lot of volunteering at our local running/triathlon events so I’m hoping – in the big picture – that helps things balance out.

Do you have any events through school/work/church at which your kids can help out? Do you find that maybe one of your kids like it more than others? I never really got E out doing that kind of stuff but I’m really hoping Wes eventually enjoys it like Nikki does. I don’t want that kind of thing to feel like an obligation, but I do want him to give back since he participates in local events too!


  • Brenda

    My daughter and I are both active in 4-H and Girl Scouts. We have a lot of opportunities to volunteer in the community with both groups. I belong to a local women’s club that has many ways to volunteer in the community and we also raise money to help children in our community. My daughter is often with me for these activities.

  • Roberta

    I love that you do this. I also try to give back to the running community! Your race sounds a lot like the one that I am involved in. I am lucky enough to be involved with a longstanding neighborhood 10K, 3K, and Fun Run that just completed its 36th annual running. The race is all on the streets of Capitol Hill here in DC, and is a nonprofit fundraiser for my kids’ school! It’s all run by parent volunteers, and I’m so proud to be one of them. The kids can volunteer (middle school kids earn community service credits that are required), and they can earn free race entries by collecting $40 in monetary pledges. It is such a FUN community event, with 100% of the profits going back to the school. There is nothing like seeing it all come together on race day. I got to know the race director (a fellow parent and crazy runner) via social media, so naturally, he asked me to do social media & general community outreach. I absolutely love doing it. I feel so lucky that this can be my THING for helping the school, because it’s so many things I love & believe in all in one place. If you’re ever in DC in May, check us out! http://www.capitolhillclassic.com !

  • Trisha

    Put your time where your passion is. If everyone does that, it will all balance out, since many of us have different passions. Let the people who love being at school events tackle those. Volunteers who aren’t vested in the event usually end up being more of a hindrance anyway.