Volunteerism - Supporting our Community
We were fortunate enough to be the official water sponsor of a 50k race, that is 31 miles for all of the folks who haven't yet converted to the metric system, which if I'm not mistaken has been in the works for the past 245 years. I'm not sure if any of you participate in races, but a 50k is brutal and the torrential downpours didn't do anything to help the runners.
Humidity along with soaked clothing and water logged shoes does wonders for morale when you are spending an entire day running, or attempting to run. To add insult to injury, the course was on the Ghost Town Trail, PA's 2020 Trail of the Year, which includes a steady 2% incline for the entire race.
At 5:30am we were set up at four (4) hydration stations. We had volunteers working the stations who also checked off the participants as they passed through each checkpoint. I was set up at the finish line, handing out water to each participant as they completed the event.
I was amazed at the number of participants. We had 314 racers and 148 of them traveled from multiple states to go head-to-head with this 50k course. (Spoiler alert, the course destroyed many an ego.) Even the first finisher, who clocked in at 4 hours and 11 minutes was humbled by this course. He finished strong and at the same time he looked as if he had taken one too many head shots from the heavyweight champ of the world. He was the human version of a Weeble... as he wobbled, but he didn't fall down.
It was a blessing to be able to support our community for the entirety of the race. Our water was a hit and all but a few finishers took the time to thank us. Those who didn't were obviously delirious from the race. I figure that nearly 300 racers finished over a 13 hour period which gave me a lot of time, hours in fact, spent talking with the finishers, anxious family members, the other race sponsors and the race organizers. I met many folks who have used SERVPRO, some who had recommended our services and others who had many questions about what we actually do for a living. I offered answers as short as "we provide fire/water restoration, mold remediation and cleaning services" to full blown discussions on how we tackle certain types of losses, big and small. I made many new contacts, both commercial and residential, and I also made new friends, mostly with the members and volunteers of the race organizer, the Cambria County Conservation and Recreation Association (CCCRA). I also spent time with local ambulance associations, as their services were required for a few unfortunate participants throughout the race.
The long and short of it is that with the proper planning and preparation of the station locations and the water distribution, everyone was properly hydrated. I had a chance to meet to a group of highly motivated community members that I likely never would have met if we weren't supporting our community.
Lessons learned... 20 ounce bottles of water were too much for water runners to carry, the more volunteers the better and if you plan for the worst, you will probably have a wildly successful experience, while supporting your community!