My favorite moments as a Mile 9 road guard
Why you should volunteer at the 2020 Chevron Houston Marathon
Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
It's January. And January, in Houston, always means the Chevron Houston Marathon. Since I ran my big race in October in Iceland, I was not running Houston. I still wanted to take part in the festivities of the race, so I volunteered. This was my first time to volunteer for the race. It was such an amazing experience that I made a list of my favorite moments of the Chevron Houston Marathon.
1. Recruiting volunteers.
Cold, willing, and ready.
Sure I host long distance walking tours in Houston. What I'm really doing is trying to get everyone to run a half or full marathon. I saw the Houston Marathon as a great way to plant some seeds. It didn't surprise me that finding volunteers was so easy. Houston is such a hospitable city, I knew there would be no problems. In the end, Houston Tourism Gym donated 10 volunteers to the marathon. Not bad for a first time.
2. Making motivational running posters.
On Friday, we met for final details and to make motivational posters for the runners. Some of the volunteers, like Paula, were born clever. She proudly holds up her poster that said: "Hurry up, its cold out here." For the rest of us, we depended on A website called BestMotivationalRunningPostersEver.com Just Joking. There were some good articles online on the topic though.
3. Waking up in the cold.
Paula had a damned fine point. On Wednesday, it was apparent that this marathon would be cold. Some dropped out, but most of us grinned and bared it. On the day of the race, to beat the road closures, we had to get up at 4:30am. We kept reminding ourselves that the runners needed us.
4. Getting our official race crew jackets.
Our sector captain came bearing many gifts. The coffee, kolaches, and donuts were cool, but everyone was waiting on their official race crew jackets. We all lined up for our very own navy blue windbreaker jacket with the Chevron Houston Marathon Logo and RACE CREW printed across the back.
5. Seeing the wheelchair contestants whiz by.
Hell of an arm workout.
I love seeing the wheelchair racers. Even if I am running the race myself, I make sure that I get at least one picture. They make the coolest pictures, but you have to be quick. Those guys are fast. Can you imagine a 26.2 mile bicep and tricep workout.
6. When the elite runners pass by.
That's some high quality H2O.
You can always tell the elite runners. They look like graceful gazelles. Sometimes I laugh when I hear beginners talk like they can actually win the race on their first try. The marathon committee knows the top four or five people who are competing to win. I saw the proof on Sunday. These tables were set out marked for the top elites. Each elite has their own water bottle to drink from. As soon as they pass, they take down the tables.
7. Serving the gummy bears, jelly beans, and pretzels to the runners.
I remember when I ran Houston in 2008. When I was just leaving West Park and coming onto Richmond, there was a 10 year old girl with gummy bears. She offered me some as I passed her. I literally stopped in my tracks and ran back to her to get my gummy bear. I was forever grateful. I mean forever because that was 10 years ago. So my volunteers and I paid it forward. The runners definitely appreciated it.
8. Cheering for the runners.
James is soliciting high fives.
Everyone of my team did their best cheering. Mother and daughter, Juanice and Aneysia, cheered together. One thing is for sure. This is not their first rodeo. I hope they still have their voices. Houston Thanks you!
9. Performing our job duties.
We were the official road guards of Mile 9. We were stationed at Rice Blvd. and Greenbrier St. We were charged with keeping the runners on course and the spectators off the course. Rice University is not a defiant area. This made our job easy. Andrew, another volunteer, is an officer with the US Customs and Border Protection. Nothing got past him. At one point, I saw a gentleman step too close to the course and quick as a flash, he commands, "I'm going to need you to step back sir." Well done. I would not argue with that.
10. Electing the most impressive runner.
Let's get this straight. All of the runners were impressive. We really loved the duo of Superman and his hot dog. I saw a couple of Wonder Women. A guy was running while carrying the American flag. But, the blind runner being led by his pacer always gets me. And some people say they can't run.
11. "Running" into my old classmate on the course.
It happened while I was soliciting gummy bears. A tall guy almost got clothlined by my arm. I quickly moved out of the way to see that it was Lee Risinger from high school. I yell at the top of my lungs, “Go Lee Risinger! It's Jovan from Dickinson High School." I could hear him say hello from down the street.
He is one of my Facebook friends and I remembered seeing him post pictures of him running races. When I got home, I sent him a message. We got to catch up,but I really wanted to know how his race went.
It turns out that Lee started running about 5 years ago and lost 120 lbs. This was his first full marathon. Despite a nagging ankle injury, he finished in 6 hours 07min before collecting his medal. According to Lee, his favorite part of the race was all the support and hospitality. He loved the course and the port-o-potties were immaculate. His next race is the Seabrook Marathon. You go Lee!
Lee shows off his medals.
The road blocks have been picked up. All the trash is gone. You have a whole year to think about and train for the 5K, half, of full marathon. If not, at least volunteer. It is well worth it.