No Running Required

| May 5, 2010 | 20 Comments

The morning of Saturday, April 24 I didn’t run or race. I didn’t wear my Garmin watch or put on my running shorts. Instead, I cheered for friends at the Race to Wrigley 5k and CARA Lakefront 10-mile races. Being a spectator or a volunteer at races is almost as fun as running in them. You get to be a part of the action without logging as many miles!

I walked from my condo building to near Wrigley Field to meet with Twitter friend Renee. This was our first time meeting in real life, so we had a wonderful time chatting and getting to know each other. As a self-professed non-runner, Renee impressed me with her enthusiasm as a spectator. We admired the fast runners, the older runners, the pre-teen runners, and the slow runners. We were there to celebrate their accomplishments in one of Chicago’s most famous neighborhoods. After the race, Renee and I met with fellow Twitter friends, including Mari (of social media small business fame @foiledcupcakes), who ran her first 5k race to commemorate gathering 5,000 followers on Twitter!

Next on my agenda – I walked to the lakefront to watch friends running a longer race – the CARA Lakefront 10-mile. I cheered for runners passing the ninth mile, gradually making my way to the finish line and race site to meet my friends Kathleen, Connie, Marie, and Dana. I hugged each of them and asked how the race went. My morning was filled with sweaty hugs and endless chatter about running.

This day reminded me of one of my favorite races to be a spectator – the 2009 Chicago Marathon. While taking the CTA to various parts of the marathon course, I spotted friends and cheered for runners who displayed their names on shirts and jackets. Just a few words offer such a boost for these athletes taking one step at a time towards the finish line. If you are not running the 2010 Chicago Marathon, I hope you will be out there to cheer for us runners!

Ever thought about volunteering at races? It is simple to sign up and you meet wonderful people while earning a t-shirt or even a race entry. You may be asked to do anything from assemble race packets and goody bags to offering water at aid stations to handing out finishers medals. Check websites such as Active, CARA, and Chicago Events for a list of races and details on how you can volunteer. Contact Fleet Feet Chicago if you want to be a hydration station volunteer. During marathon training season (June to October), Fleet Feet provides free water and Gatorade at various parts of the lake front running path. It’s a fun way to meet and greet runners and cyclists during the hot summer months.

In case you were wondering if I ever did run that weekend. I did. The next morning, I raced the Ravenswood Run 5k and achieved a personal record! It was a great weekend of accomplishments and encouragement. I hope you will join me the next time I cheer at a race.

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Category: Featured, Healthy Lifestyle, Running Notes

About the Author ()

Chanthana Tsai is an endurance athlete currently training for local half marathons, 10-mile road races, the San Francisco Half Marathon, and the Chicago Marathon (where she hopes to qualify for the Boston Marathon). Follow her on Twitter @chanthana or provide her motivation on Dailymile

Comments (20)

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  1. Joe J says:

    Another great article Chanthana! I have yet to experience being on the other side of the water aid station, handing out water or cheering on other runners. Sounds like it can be a fun experience with the right people. Congrats again on your PR that weekend too!

    • Chanthana says:

      Come cheer with with me, Joe. We would have a blast together! Thanks for your comment… and nice job with your training. See you at Soldier Field 10!

  2. Mari says:

    Thanks, Chanthana! You’re one of the key people who have encouraged me to run all this time – and I’m now starting to understand how fun it can be. I’m leaps and bounds and years away from where you are, but one can dream 🙂

    • Chanthana says:

      Hi Mari! It’s so fun to follow your running progress as you do something fun to thank your followers and customers. Thanks for letting me a part of such a wonderful day at Race to Wrigley!

  3. Kelly Mack says:

    Another great article CT!!

  4. Chippie says:

    Uh oh, going back to basics, rediscovering your roots along with a new holistic approach? RED ALERT! Be on the look out for scorched pavements as CT tramples the Chicago Marathon beast on her way to Boston.

    To be continued…

  5. BlazinAsian (the short one) says:

    Fantastic article and what a weekend this was for you. You accomplished your goal with a PR at Ravenswood and I know more PRs are in store. Here’s to more running, racing and training with you 🙂

    • Chanthana says:

      Love it! I guess that makes me “the middle-sized Blazin Asian”! This is going to be an awesome summer of running and races for us. Thanks for all your support and laughs. Looking forward to Boston 2011!

  6. I really do <3 this post! I agree that volunteering can be as much fun as actually running the races.

    I've missed a lot of races I signed up for this year due to a nagging foot injury. So I signed up to volunteer at the Shamrock Shuffle — and it was SOOOO much fun. The atmosphere was just like it is at the starting line (abuzz with excitement).

    I also like the idea that @foiledcupcakes had. I might just have to wait to get my post-injury 5K run until i have 5,000 followers on Twitter. That should allow me enough time to heal. LOL 🙂

    • Chanthana says:

      Thanks for your comment, Kirsten! And thank you for volunteering at Shamrock. That is a fun race! You’ll be up and running (literally!) in no time. Until then, enjoy the downtime.

  7. Chanthana, great post! I’ve been seeing a lot of folks recently commenting on the need to give back in terms of volunteering or being a supportive spectator. I’ve thought about it in the past and never done anything about it, always choosing to participate rather than help out. Now that my kids are starting to participate, I have a whole new perspective.

    • Chanthana says:

      Hi Kovas! As you well know, it’s so much fun to be a competitor. I hope you will get the chance to be a volunteer or spectator soon. As you say, it provides a whole new perspective 🙂 Thank you for your comment.

  8. Renee says:

    Another great article. I love volunteering at races. It’s a lot of fun to be on the other side of things and give back. I had volunteered at Ironman Wisconsin for several years when I lived in Madison. It is amazing to watch the athletes come by. Last fall I ended up volunteering at an event that I had wanted to run, but was injured and ended up enjoying the day a lot more than I thought I would.

    • Chanthana says:

      Was IM Wisconsin where they gave the cow finishers medals? 🙂 Thanks for the comment, Renee! Looking forward to hearing more about your races and volunteer experiences.

  9. Tom Valenti says:


    Great post. It reminded me of that day, and when I followed my niece ( by CTA) when she was ruinning the Cicago Marathon a few years back.

    I will become a regular reader.


    • Chanthana says:

      Tom! Thanks for your comment! I know your niece very much appreciated you traveling the city to watch her run 26.2 miles. What a special day, and you got to witness it! I hope you will enjoy these articles.

  10. Ashley says:

    Great article Chanthana! I am just getting back into the swing of running and watching others run is one of my biggest motivators. Thanks for listing all of the places you can volunteer. I had never even thought about that but it’s definitely on my list of things to do now!

    • Chanthana says:

      Hi Ashley! I think it would be fun to volunteer together. We can talk about Lobo and cheer on other runners! Great job getting back into running 🙂 Thanks for your comment!

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