Sprint for Monroe 5K: Part Two
After the race began, I walked back to the registration area, where volunteers were furiously uncovering all of the food and drinks for when the runners returned. I thought there would be some quiet moments here, but by the time I walked back after every runner had passed, we were already close to the ten minute mark. I knew that our elite runners would be crossing the line sometime between the 15 and 17 minute mark, so I walked over to the finish line with my husband.
Our finish line was different this year. We hadn’t intended it to be so, but our race timer had suddenly fallen ill two days before the race and had to bow out. He called in several different favors, and after several hours of stress for me and a few members of my race committee, we’d signed on a new timer. Our original timer had used the “tear off” bib system. When you crossed the line, you handed the bottom portion of your bib to a timer. They scanned in your bar code and that’s how they record your time. Most of the races I’ve run score times this way. It can get dicey with a big race, because you end up with a line of people waiting to be scanned, which can add precious seconds to your race time if you come in during a busy patch.
Most tear off bib timers wouldn’t go near our race since we’d hit the 500 mark with our preregistration. So in the 11th hour we switched to “chip” timing, which meant that inside of our race bibs existed a chip that would be scanned electronically as someone crossed the start line and the finish line. Most big races go this route, because it prevents bottlenecks at the finish line. Plus in a big race it takes you a while to even get to the start; chip timing allows a recording of when you cross the start AND the finish and gives you a net time, which is fairer to those in the back of a big crowd (always where I am).
Anyway, it wasn’t long before our first runner, a speedy guy who was flying down the final hill all alone, appeared. He crossed at 16:06, insanely fast. I’d never watched a race from this vantage point before, seeing all of the fast people come in. It was amazing to see. I watched for a few minutes as the runners started to come in more frequently, and then went back over to the food area to make sure everything was in order.
It was. My volunteers were running everything seamlessly. This gave me plenty of time to start sweating about the next portion of our event. You see, a race isn’t over when the final runner crosses the finish line. At least not at our race. We have raffle prizes to give away, thank yous to say and then trophies to give out.
The people on my committee had all worked the race before, most of them for 20 years. They all were used to doing what they had always done. I was happy to keep up the tradition; I’ve never been an attention hog. The only part I wanted to do myself, I told them, were the thank yous. Since I’d been the one to contact all of our sponsors, our advertisers, those who had donated product and money, I wanted to be the one to thank them.
Also, since it the kids’ race had raised so much money, and I’d been the one to work with that committee, I wanted to talk about that as well. I had planned to give a check for $5000, which represented straight donations made to the Chase Kowalski Foundation, to Chase’s family that day. It felt right to be able to do that there in front of so many who had contributed to the cause.
The raffles went off without a hitch, in the same manner as they had in the past. I handed out certificates for free gym memberships, free shoes, free Polar Heart Rate Monitors (you have no idea how much I coveted that prize!). Then it was my turn to speak.
Fortunately for me, the previous race director, whom I had worked closely with this year, had given me his previous two years of speeches. They gave me a good framework to start from. I had typed it all out ahead of time, read some, ad libbed some, and mostly got through it without too much emotion. That is, until I went to hand off the big check. My friends tell me that they could see that this is where I struggled. They were also polite enough to say that it wouldn’t have been obvious to those who didn’t know me. I don’t know if that’s true, but it was an honor to be able to give that check away that day. I was proud to do it, and humbled.
Once that was done, a representative from their foundation spoke for a bit. Then it was onto trophies. This was my screw up of the day happened.
My partner, the previous race director, had warned me to check our trophy order before race day, count everything, pull it out of the box, make sure they all were there. But everything was packed so beautifully that I never thought I’d get them back in again, so I didn’t.
You can see this coming, right? Yep. Six trophies were missing; the ones for the 70 + age group. And sure enough, they’d all stayed till the bitter end waiting for them, so I had to take down their information and promise I’d mail them to them. Yikes. Lesson learned.
After that? It was over. 11am, and all that was left to show for the months of hard work going into the day were a lot of warm feelings and a ton of trash. We cleared everything out and I loaded my car (just as full as it had been the night before, but with different stuff this time). My feet were killing me, my ears were ringing and I was sweating so much it looked like I’d actually run the race.
But I couldn’t have been happier. Other than my one faux pas, things had gone smoothly. Everyone seemed happy, content, had a good time. My committee seemed pleased with the job I’d done, they’d done. Most of them offered to come back next year to help out again, a vote of confidence I’d worried all day I would not get back from them.
Working on the race was truly life changing. It challenged me, pushed me well outside of my comfort zone. But it rewarded me with new friends, new skills, and a new confidence in myself that has long been missing. I can’t wait for next year to do it all again.