Sunday, May 6, 2012
Appreciating the Volunteers
This morning, I ran one of the largest 10-mile races in the United States - the Broad Street Run in Philadelphia. The race was capped at 40,000 people, and amazingly, it was sold out within 5 hours of entries being available on-line back in February. As you might imagine, the logistical challenges of a race of this size are enormous; and to make it even more challenging, it's a "point-to-point" race, meaning that the starting line is 10 miles from the finish line.
To move 40,000 runners from parking lots to the start, check their gear for retrieval at the finish, provide safety, drinks, food, and first aid, among many other tasks, required literally thousands of volunteers. Most of these people started their day in the wee hours of the morning and didn't finish till early afternoon.
Today, I made it my job to thank as many of them as I could. This included the bus drivers, the people checking gear, those monitoring the finish line, the people handing out food after the race, and even those directing traffic. I wanted them to know that I appreciate all that they did to make it a smooth event.
After the race, as we waited to get our dry clothes and personal gear from the buses where they had been stowed, I saw one man complaining loudly - he was practically yelling - about how long he had to wait to get his gear. He was totally disgusted and was complaining to anyone who would listen. It was fascinating to watch as he was about the only one who was complaining. I was actually impressed with how efficient things were being handled. It's interesting how we can each choose to see the same situation in completely different ways. And no doubt, the way he was choosing to perceive it was likely to negatively affect how he dealt with anyone in his path, and even how he dealt with the rest of his day. I chose kindness and appreciation and I'll bet my day was a whole lot better.