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Karen Zook started off with a task to fill more than 700 volunteer positions at the Mill Race Marathon. With eight weeks until the Sept. 28 event, about 200 spots are left to be filled.
“We’re down to the race-day opportunities only,” said Zook, a Cummins Inc. director in tech support who serves as the event’s volunteer coordinator.
Zook wants to get as much lined up this month as possible, since volunteer training sessions begin next week.
Many volunteers have come from groups, such as churches, nonprofit organizations, co-workers at businesses and service organizations. Others are just individuals wanting to be part of the big day. Volunteers range from elementary school children manning water stops with their parents to seniors 75 and older distributing medals, goody bags or information material.
Race participants near Hamilton Center Ice Arena will see up to 20 members of the Diesel Dollz women’s roller derby team wearing all their gear and skates, keeping runners on the course and vehicles clear of the marathon path.
“I think it will be a really good time,” said Taletha Baum of the Columbus team, which also has volunteered at such community events as parades and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
The team has recruited others, including boyfriends, husbands and league referees, to spend the morning volunteering on race day. Members will watch and assist as hundreds of runners and walkers make their way along their assigned portion of the course along the People Trails.
Baum said some team members will run in the half-marathon, so they’ll be able to cheer them on.
The roller derby team will be working as “course directionals,” which is one of the two main volunteer positions that remains open. The other is for people to work at water stops.
Zook explained that course directionals, who must be at least 18, are the people on the course who:
n Keep the race route clear and open for race participants
n Ensure spectators and/or cars do not appear on the route
n Maintain the route so participants remain on the course.
Water-stop volunteers will serve that all-important role of keeping runners hydrated as they make their journey through the city. Water will be provided at about every mile of the entire 26.2-mile route.
Zook said both jobs give volunteers a great opportunity to see the participants up close and really be a part of the event
“It really is a front-row seat,” Zook said. “You can root people on.”
One of the groups that will volunteer for waters stops is the Northside Middle School cross-country team.
Coaches Chuck Grimes and Sarah McGovern expect many of their seventh- and eighth-graders will run in the 5K event Sept. 28, but they will encourage others to volunteer.
The coaches said the students not only will be giving their time to the community event, but they will have a chance to see many runners from around the county. Many of the parents also will volunteer.
Zook said she has been thrilled with all the groups that have stepped up to volunteer and are even willing to be at the event at 6 a.m. to join the fun.
“People have carved out that time, and many parents want to be there with their children,” she said.
When the volunteer opportunities were first announced, some jobs went quickly, such as handing out goody bags and distributing medals. Now, Zook needs to make sure all volunteer aspects of the race are fully covered.
Filling the water stops was one of the biggest challenges because this is the position where she needed the most volunteers. She needs to fill about 45 of the 310 spots.
A range of other volunteer openings are available in other areas, such as distributing bib numbers, checking in gear, providing refreshments and working at the start and finish lines. All positions are listed on the race website.
Zook always planned to over-book her volunteer slots just to be safe. Come race day, she knows there will be some unexpected illnesses and other emergencies that take people away from their previous commitment.
She is confident that members of the community will fill the final openings.
“The community has really rallied around this opportunity,” Zook said.
STILL AVAILABLE: Water stops, course directionals, ask me/information, bib numbers, gear check, start and finish line control, refreshments/recovaery/rest
TIME: About three to six hours
WHEN: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Aug. 14 and 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 21 and Sept. 11.
WHERE: Columbus City Hall
WHY: To go over duties and learn about safety measures.
April: 730 needed
July: 530 confirmed
Still needed: 200 (about)
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