If running 13.1 or 26.2 miles, or even 5 kilometers, seems a bit much in the course of a weekend morning, you might consider a run at volunteering.
The fifth annual Mill Race Marathon needs nearly 500 more volunteers during and immediately leading up to the Sept. 23 races. Organizers are about halfway to the 1,000 mark needed each year, and for one particular volunteer role it will pay for you to step up.
While most of the volunteer jobs earn the satisfaction of being able to help put on the annual event that brings thousands of people to downtown Columbus, volunteer course marshals earn an actual payday.
Marathon organizers will pay $100 to groups of at least 10 people who volunteer as course marshals during the Sept. 23 5K, half-marathon and full marathon events. For each person in addition to the first 10, another $10 will be added to the group compensation, said Brad Klosinski, Mill Race Marathon volunteer director.
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So far, about two dozen course marshal positions have been filled. Another 200 are needed, Klosinski said.
“We have all of our water station volunteers committed. It’s those course marshals where we need help,” Klosinski said. “It is always a difficult position to fill.”
Although often overlooked, being a course marshal can be one of the most rewarding jobs on marathon day, Klosinski said. They are out on the course directing, watching and cheering on runners, he said.
“The marshals take care of the runners. They make sure runners are going the right directions and they are in a great position to see if someone needs help, and alert the medical teams,” Klosinski said.
Course marshals also get an up-close look at what Klosinski calls the “triumph of the human spirit,” where runners dig deep and find the will to finish the race even when they’re exhausted.
Julie Anthers of Elizabethtown got to see that last year as a Mill Race Marathon course marshal, and she’s signed up to help again.
“Whether it was the first or the last runner, everyone was determined to finish. I found that amazing,” Anthers said.
Anthers — who has also helped with the Kids Fun Run, conducted the Friday night before the marathon — said she finds the act of volunteering is enjoyable and rewarding.
“One of the highlights was the gratitude the runners expressed as they said ‘thanks,’ waved or touched a child’s outstretched hand while running by,” Anthers said.
Besides the work, volunteers also can expect to have a little fun during marathon weekend, said Bekah Gatchel of Columbus.
Most years, Gatchel helps out at the Developmental Services, Inc.’s water station.
“I play peppy, motivating music so we can all dance,” she said. “I love the experience. We have so much fun, cheering on the participants, meeting great folks — both volunteer and participants.”
Gatchel and her DSI team make the experience a contest of their own, striving to be the most memorable, fun and enthusiastic water station.
This year, however, Gatchel has volunteered to fill one of the much-needed course marshal positions.
Art Wodecki, also of Columbus, has experienced the marathon from both a runner’s standpoint and as a volunteer.
Wodecki competed in the full marathon three years ago, but switched roles two years ago and has been leading the start/finish and setup volunteers.
Whether running or working, Wodecki said he has enjoyed it all.
“It’s been great to be on the other side, clapping and cheering the runners as they across the finish line,” Wodecki said. “It really makes me happy.”
More than 60 percent of Mill Race Marathon volunteers are placed on the track, but there is a role for everyone, Klosinski said.
The only requirements are that you’re at least 15, unless working with a parent or guardian, and be able to complete the volunteer position’s work.
Volunteer roles that are available include packet stuffing and pickup, gear check, setup and being at start/finish lines. There are also five train-spotter jobs that need to be filled, based a surprise from the 2014 race.
That’s when an unexpected Louisville & Indiana Railroad train crossed the race path in Mill Race Park about 20 minutes after the 7:30 a.m. start, just as waves of marathon and half-marathon runners were approaching.
You can find a full list of available Mill Race Marathon volunteer opportunities, then apply for ones that you’re interested in at millracemarathon.com/volunteer.
Questions: Send an email to Brad Klosinski, marathon volunteer director, at email@example.com.
Here is a list of Mill Race Marathon volunteer opportunities Sept. 21 to 23 and the number of people needed for each. Full position descriptions can be found online at millracemarathon.com/volunteer.
They are sorted below in order of the highest need.
Course marshals: 200
Friday packet pickup: 60
Start/finish lines: 60
Thursday packet stuffing: 35
Gear check/results: 25
Downtown parking marshal: 20
Race day setup: 20
Friday race setup: 20
Race day packet pickup: 15
Shuttle bus greeter: 10
Thursday race setup: 10
Walmart lot parking marshal: 10
Train spotter: 5