Another great experience came my fab running way helping runners at the Financial Fitness Run 2014 as part of the Finisher’s Medal team. This is the next best thing after running than just sleeping past waking hour in a lazy Sunday morning not wanting to do anything yet wishing you were doing something running! A complex dilemma (so complicated that I need to be redundant), it is indeed.
The “call” came the night before of the race at around 9 PM. My phone’s caller ID indicated the event’s organizer Mr. Greentennial Rovic G. Wondering what’s the fuss of calling a running diva about when he should be busy with the more pressing aspect of the race’s preparation, I took the call. I was thinking that something was amiss that precipitated this last minute do or die decision of asking for my help. Or did the stretching lead just died? Or Madam Cathy, the Program Director, having a nasty dysmenorrhea?
It turned out Rovic was concerned that the Medal Team’s leader, Rosemarie, suddenly pushed her mute button days leading to the event that some members are pestering the head honcho asking for some instructions, or I would say, some comforting reminders just to make things appear that someone’s on top of everything. Knowing Rosemarie, she had everything perfectly laid out in her delicate but fiercely manicured and very strong-willed fingertips, being the diva runner that she is! Well, save maybe for dishing out some pre-race instructions that is.
The Medal Team
Then I found myself browsing the Greentennial Volunteer Marshal Facebook page for the thread on Financial Fitness run and see who the members of the Medal Team are. Maybe just to find out what is happening, as I was not planning to volunteer in the first place. Not that I can do much at this point than just ask them what’s up and telling them that I will be in the event venue before 4 AM and devise some strategy from then on. The issue here is I myself had no previous experience in medal giving so I really have no idea what problems we need to address and prepare for!
The Medal Team is composed of the Greentennial Hunks (3 of them made it to the event), singlet models (3 of them), 3 running volunteers of whom I personally know (Glads J., Nikki, and Ayen who was a last minute addition) and 4 non-runner volunteers. The very first impression that came to my mind is that, given the number of runners and the distance categories (3K, 5K, 10K and 21K), we are very much lacking in manpower. But I dismissed this thought after my scouting for last minute addition to the team was unfruitful. It unfortunately came back when the actual deluge of 5K runners occurred some 30 mins. into the race. It was when the file for finisher’s medal reached up to the very finish line itself!
The Event Day
I arrived at the Bonifacio Global City race venue wearing my diva shirt, a shorty shorts with matching long black socks (my usual running attire during a race, the feeling engot look), as if I am going to run. Sometimes it is nicer to the psyche to dress like a runner even if you are not running just to look right and not feel like an odd man out in a running event and save yourself from the usual query of “Why are you not running?”
Nikki was already there way ahead of most of us together with the non-runner volunteers, standing guard the boxes of 21K finisher’s trophies in a gated corner some few meters back from the finish line beside the photo wall where we set up our base. A few more minutes and some Greentennial Hunks arrived, then Glads J., Rosemarie, Ayen and last, naturally, the models. Duh?
We divied our team into 3s – 4 for 21K, 3 for 10K, 3 for 5K and 3 for 3K. One was to stay with the box of medals/trophies while the rest are to give out. This I believe is the bare minimum number of persons for each category. The medal boxes were placed at the back while the 2 givers stay in front much nearer the finish line to approach the finishers upon crossing it. The one left with the box will sort the medals for the givers when they come back for replenishment.
21K – Nikki and 3 Hunks (Jerome, Jose,
10K – Singlet Models and Glads J.
5K – 3 Non-runner Volunteers
3K – Ayen, 1 Singlet Model and 1 Non-runner Volunteer
The Hunks, all 3 of them, will stand by the trophy section as both givers and “harang” to the section itself as Nikki, all by her lonesome, guards the rest. 21K finishers were given trophies instead of medals.
The Lessons Learned
- There was a total lack of members given the number of runners per category. Ideally there should have been 6 21K team members so 3 can give out the trophies, 2 can assist the givers, and 1 just to guard the rest since the enclosure for the boxes of trophies was wide enough for any bad intentioned person not to be notice when he or she takes some through the fence.
- The 5K category arrives in a deluge and so to abate this situation, 5 volunteers must be needed: 4 to give out the medals and 1 to stay with the boxes.
- The 10K category needed 4 volunteers though 3 will suffice..
- The 3K category can be handled by 3 persons just fine given the number of runners.
- The finisher area at the back of the finish line should have been longer and the medal givers positioned further back so the file for medals will not reach the finish line itself. (This was, unfortunately, not possible as a photo wall was at out back.)
- Browse up on some info like finisher shirt distribution rules, portalet placement, baggage area, and some other info that weary runners unable to think clearly might ask while you are already being harassed doing what you are tasked to do. This is not anymore your responsibility but as a service to the runners, might as well give them the info they need so as not to be stressed further.
Given the limited team members and space, what should have been done?
- The initial set up is the least we can do given the limited manpower so there should be flexible members from the 3K and 10K who would reinforce the 5K group as the deluge of runners arrive around the 30 minute time frame.
- The boxes should be grouped together with only one person watching over them. He or she would sort all the medals of different categories to the best of his or her effort for all the givers.
- Medals need not be placed around the runners neck by the givers if constraint calls for it but handed for faster disbursement (though the gesture is very symbolic for the runners just like with any academic or special awardees).
- As what happened, other marshals from other groups without pressing things to do or with finished responsibilities can help.
- There should be one assigned to oversee the progress of things and to make necessary actions as problems arises. As per my experience, it is very hard to do everything all at once like watching the boxes, sorting the medals and “making sabit” to some and still foresee problems about to occur like the crowding of finishers filing for their medals which almost reached the finish line area.
Like in everything else, there is always the first time. This role in a run race is a very first for me and though a bit hesitant at first, I know that the lessons I will learn from this experience will be invaluable. I had a couple of experience running the baggage section. In a way, I had devised my own system of making things work efficiently and smoothly in this section. After this one, I too had devised a system by taking into account the things that I had learned and applying them if ever I will be assigned in this role again.