At every race there are people cheering the runners up, giving water, handing out medals at the finish line, and doing many other things so the runner can enjoy the race. We, runners, appreciate people who volunteer their time to help us out when we are running a 5K, a half marathon, a marathon or an ultra. It doesn’t matter the distance, volunteers are awesome at every single race.
This past Saturday, I decided to volunteer and to give back to the amazing running community in Nebraska. There was a crazy race going on in Gretna, NE, called What The Hill?!, organized by the Greater Omaha Trail Runners (GOATZ), where runners go and down a very steep hill with such an inclination in certain sections you can easily touch the ground with your hands. The loop is slightly over half a mile, which means that each runner has to climb that beauty twenty-four times.
After running 30 miles last weekend, I knew my muscles were not ready to take them in such an adventure of running a painful hill, which led me to the decision of volunteering at the aid station to help many friends and runners participating in this event.
For the first few hours, I was offering and handing out little water cups to everyone running the race. Many of the runners didn’t seem to need water at first, but as soon as the temperature started increasing, more people became thirstier. In less than two hours, the trash bags were overflown by used white cups.
At the aid station there were a few interesting food items. Momos (Nepali food) were available for everyone, they are similar to a mini empanada but steamed instead of fried, filled with vegetables and turkey. These momos are supposed to be dipped in an orange spicy sauce, but they still taste delicious even without the sauce. I ate more than five of these things because they were absolutely mouthwatering. Another tasty food item were the so called “GOATZ balls” made by one of the volunteers; these exquisite balls were made out of mini chocolate chips, a few raisings, oats, and peanut butter. I offered them to everyone at the race and they certainly became the popular thing at the aid station because of the good source of protein and calories for the runners.
There were probably more than 30 volunteers helping the 150 runners along the course. The race directors were playing music by the finish line while families and friends were cheering on the runners running up and down the hill. On top of the hill, more volunteers were waiting for the runners giving them a few words of encouragements and support as they were climbing that beast.
To top it off, around 20 people, including volunteers, race directors, families, friends, and other runners walked with the last runner as she was heading toward the last loop. This beautiful act of kindness showed that this race was all about the runner and the amazing running community that Nebraska has.