I’m sure there are a number of us who know what it’s like to smell beer at 9am, not that many of us would admit it. But, a few days in Vegas or a couple early football games sometimes call for beer-thirty to hit earlier than usual. On Thanksgiving Day, that reason was a 5k Turkey trot, and before anyone gets excited, Matt and I weren’t actually drinking the beer. We were serving it to about 5000 runners and walkers.
Since Matt and I are staying in Myrtle Beach, SC for a few weeks, we had Thanksgiving dinner with his sister and her family, who live near Charleston, SC. It’s just a couple hours drive for us, and since Matt and I usually start our days off with a run, Thanksgiving Day is no exception. Except that, once we went searching for a local turkey day race in the Charleston area, the only one we found cost over $30 a person to register. As you know, though we’re having a blast traveling, we have no income, so it was just too much to pay for running just 3 miles. Instead, we did what we’ve never done before: we volunteered. So instead of paying $30 to run 3 miles, not get a t-shirt, and get a banana and beer at the finish, we volunteered, paid nothing, and not only got a t-shirt, but also got coffee, krispy kreme donuts and free access to the beer.
Our first experience as race volunteers went pretty smoothly, though it was strange to be on that side of the race. One aspect I was surprised about is that the volunteers really don’t know much about the race. We showed up at 7am, they gave us a street corner to stand on during the race to prevent cars from getting on the course, and when every runner had passed us by 9:30, we went back to the finish and served beer in the busy tent until 11am. I had people asking me about the course, suggesting changes to the race, asking how to exchange a t-shirt size, and even needing directions to a local hotel. On the flip side, as a runner or spectator, I’ve always thought the volunteers have some big get-together to go over the timeline, the race course, etc…this might in fact happen for big races like NYC, Chicago or Boston, but definitely not for the Turkey Day Run in Charleston, SC. Although there were several perennial volunteers, we were all winging it together.
All in all, it was a great experience with a new perspective and a few good stories. It was fun being in the beer tent because we were so greatly appreciated for pouring and serving beer, in unlimited quantities. We had eight tables full of big cups of Michelob Ultra, all lined up about six rows deep, and we refilled the tables constantly. The only time the runners and walkers got angry was when the local police shut down the beer tent at exactly 11am, as that’s when the race’s license to serve expired. It got a little ugly with the cop and a runner dressed as a Kiss band member, face makeup and all.
I would say that Matt and I still prefer to run the races, but it’s good to know the grass is just as green on the other side of the beer table.