Jr. Managing Editor
You’re at mile 10. Your breaths are heavy in your ears. Your throat feels like sandpaper. You turn the corner and that small card table filled with cups of water can suddenly transform into a beacon of hope. As high school students scramble to find ways to squeeze volunteer hours into their busy days for Silver Cord or Bright Futures many miss an opportunity hidden in plain sight.
Unbeknownst to most high school students Jacksonville holds a thriving running community. There are multiple running clubs and the largest local race organizer is considered one of the top 50 in the nation.
This results in dozens held all over Jacksonville each year, may for nonprofit organization championing great causes. While running such races may not be for everyone, there are plenty of other ways to get involved in these fast paced events.
These races require an intense amount of volunteer power. Most races have a water station every mile and a half. A single table at a water stations requires a minimum of about six volunteers. A small scale half-marathon can need 48 volunteers for just water stations.
This is not counting clean up, set up, or any other race day activities. The Donna marathon, the and half marathon for breast cancer, drew nearly 10,000 runners from across the world and required thousands of volunteers during the race weekend. Volunteering at races also allows for students to experience the excitement without the long term training.
“I really enjoy cheering and encouraging runners because when I run I am motivated when people cheer for me,” said Olivia Pelhum, a junior who has ran and volunteered at many races.
As the weather heats up the number of races for good causes only increases. The Marchtogetscreened for Colon Cancer is March 5 and the First Coast Parkinson’s Run is April 22.
First Place Sports, a local running store and race organizer, also holds a registry that holds nearly all of the major races coming up on their website. Students interested in volunteering for races that don’t provide online registration for volunteers should contact the sponsoring organizations.
Placing a paper cup of Gatorade into a sweaty palm may not seem like making a difference, but races for nonprofits can do incredible things, for example charity races raising over a billion dollars in 2013.
Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?