Sunday, October 11, 2015

Volunteering at the Chicago Marathon

  I know I'm pretty crazy when it comes to running, but I wasn't crazy enough to schedule marathons on back to back weekends followed by a 50 miler so this year the intention was to sit out the Chicago Marathon. I realized I didn't entirely want to be on the sidelines so I figured I'd volunteer. Rather than work at aid station I decided I want to be in the thick of things at the start. I signed up to be an info person in the start area.

I was up at 2:30AM so I could get down to Grant Park for my 4:15AM check in. I got down there in the nick of time and followed the masses through the dark where I got my credentials and then was hooked up with a jacket and hat.They had some light snacks for us and then we met up with our coordinator for our assignments. I was going to be in Butler field. We grouped up and were placed all around the area by Buckingham Fountain and along Jackson. We would be directing runners with questions. We only had a 5 minute overview and given a map. Good thing I was familiar with everything so that was all I needed.

At 5:30AM the runners started streaming in. The most common question was for gear check. It was funny seeing a lot of runners just blow past us with only the VIP tents behind us and asking those guys where gear check was. I'm wearing a vest that says "Ask Me" and those guys were big burly bouncer types. Go figure. I guess if you're so focused you lose sight of other things.

The time flew by pretty quickly. Luckily my insight as a prior participant was a help. I knew the front corrals had port-a-potties in them so I started directing runners that way once it got later. Some people were hoping I had some magic hidden restrooms I could point out. Sorry, there's only so many. Once it was 10 minutes until the wave 1 corrals closed it turned into total chaos. People were running every which way. I don't get why after all this training and planning that you rush the last minute details.

Soon  after the corrals closed it got pretty quiet. We directed a few lost wave 2 people and started to head back towards the volunteer tent. We all gathered near the fence to watch the runners head up towards the start. Once the runners went through and the clothes were being gathered we headed back to the volunteer tent to check out. I then headed down just past mile 23 to do some spectating.


  1. Thanks for volunteering! I did wish there was a hidden bathroom somewhere because I had to go while waiting in my corral. It sucks waiting and having to go.

  2. Yes, thanks for volunteering. There was a bank of porta-potties in the post-race area that were fenced off, but I saw security let a few runners through the fence to access them. Otherwise the lines by the A and B corral porta-potties were long. Also, I was surprised to see you at mile 23.5 as I thought you were volunteering the entire morning!