Sunday, November 26, 2006

Seattle marathon volunteer report

It's weird how often Murphy's Law strikes with marathon weather. Seattle has on average only a couple of days of snow a year and one of these days happened to be marathon day.

The weather for the marathon ranged from 33F(24F)-37F(29F) with 12-16 mph gushing winds and a snow/rain mix. I don't think the rain would have surprised any one given that this is November in Seattle (this year was the wettest November in history). However, the cooler than normal weather would have impacted the runners. I wonder why the marathon organizers don't move the race to an April-September date. I guess it must be a revenue issue.

After toying with the idea of running the full (earlier in the year) and then the half (dumped the idea for a no-frills half a couple of weeks back instead of paying the $65-85 entry fees), I decided to volunteer in a water-station for the charity I ran my first marathon with, Asha for Education.
I've never had the chance to see the whole gamut of runners participating in a marathon so this was an interesting experience. The race leaders on sub-2:20 pace blew by us. For a bit there was a lull and then the volume of runners kept increasing until the run-walkers around the 4hr+ pace mark. The running forms transformed from smooth/highly efficient to normal to labored. Quite a few 5-6hr runners took two cups of water (perhaps why we hear so much about hyponatremia).

There were runners cramping, some giving up and beginning to walk as they reached our water-stop. A guy pulled out of the race with knee issues. He told me that he had been walking from mile 13. I consoled him telling him that he did the right/smart thing. He was cutting his recovery time and could always recover and run a Winter/Spring 'thon.

I scolded anyone in our group who attempted to tell the runners that they were almost there with 18.3 miles done!!! So some people won't be whining about this in their race report ;)

I guess I'll have a new perspective when I pass the water stops in my next marathon. The volunteers holding out water for you, trying to ensure that the water cup is 3/4 full, the gatorade cup 1/2 full & sufficiently diluted. Trying to determine what kind of fluid you want. The flavor of the energy gel you might want. Making eye contact. Stretching their arms out so that you can efficiently grab your fluids. How they appreciate it when you thank them ...

The Seattle marathon course seems quite nice - passing though the city and then some scenic parts. Surely worth doing as a non-PR marathon keeping in mind that it will probably be raining and the course is a "little" hillier than Chicago ;)


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