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March 31, 2014

Jim Silva: Experiencing the marathon as a volunteer fosters a fresh perspective

“Are you running on Sunday?”

“Are you running on Sunday?”

I must have answered that question a dozen times last week. The answer was “no.” I did not run Sunday during the Surgical Artistry Modesto Marathon.

Instead, I spent the morning working a water station with some of my Team in Training cohorts. Water stations are placed at various points during a marathon or half-marathon. They’re there to provide hydration for runners, moral support and, if required, medical help.

It was my first time working a water station and it was a fun, interesting experience. I learned a lot from doing it. Here are a few thoughts:

• I wish I would’ve thanked the volunteers more in my past races. It’s a lot of work to be out there supporting the racers and I now have a new appreciation for what the volunteers do. I had a lot of runners and walkers shout to me “thank you for being out here” as they went past me. I now plan to do that more often.
• I could see how important it was for the runners to be encouraged, both vocally and visually. I tried to give as many thumbs ups as I could and smile as much as I could while handing off the water. When I took a break from passing off the cups, I walked around clapping and encouraging the runners with “Way to go!” and “You got this!” I could see the looks on runners’ faces it seemed to give them a little bit of a boost.
• It’s important to make sure you actually slow down at a water station and take it in. Listen to the encouragement. Get the hydration you need. In the past I’ve run right through the water stations, worried that slowing down would cost me time. On June 1 I plan to soak in the positive vibes and take advantage of the help that the water stations provide.
• Everybody has his or her own goals. As I watched people run or walk past our water station, I thought about how everyone has their own goals, their own demons to conquer and their own fitness journey that they’re on. No matter how fast you go, what kind of shape you’re in, you are out there trying to get fit and accomplish something. It was an inspiring thing.

So while I didn’t run in any of the events at the Modesto Marathon, I did participate. It was a great experience, a great event, and something I hope will help me as I continue to train for my third marathon.

A great event

I just want to give a quick shout-out to the organizers of the Modesto Marathon. By all accounts, the fifth running of the race turned out to be a huge success. It’s a testament to the excellence of the race directors, the Shadowchase Running Club and the Modesto-area running community, of which I am proud to be a member.

It’s great to have such an event so close to home. Our community is much better off because of it.

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