Most anyone that knows me, knows I love to be around anything with positive energy. I enjoy motivating others to their goals, & I enjoy laughing. Of course, like anyone else, I’m occasionally faced with challenges, but who isn’t.
Earlier this year, I was trying to think of fun ways to market the Gate River Run & get motivated to work a little harder on some personal projects in fitness. Nothing spells serious motivation & a positive vibe better than being around a pack of runners who have voluntarily opted to take on a marathon, and travel to get there.
I registered to volunteer with the New York City marathon & requested to work at race number pickup. I was assigned two days from 9-2pm, & told I could stay longer, if I wanted.
Fast forward to the first day of the expo & I was greeted by so many people who were happy to see me and one man, Glenn, wanted me to tell my coworkers about the app to find anyone in the race. I did this within the first hour of being there, & I went on the company Facebook workplace site of my employer & posted it. After all, the CEO of my employer, Ed Bastian, was running the race. There were also 16 other runners from Delta running the race, too. One of my managers from the New York City base, Edwin Avelar, volunteered at the expo too. He was a complete scream in stopping by between greeter jobs. I hope everyone running the marathon has a blast.
After checking in, I was given a volunteer t-shirt & told which room to report to. I was about the 3rd person to arrive there. The lady running orientation, Barbara Alpert, was a complete scream & very “no nonsense”. She told us with a lot of humor that she’d been volunteering with the race (on her vacation time from her job) for the last 30 years. She loved the energy of the runners & found it rewarding. She gave solid direction, and summed up customer service in a matter of minutes. It went like this, “Greet everyone with a smile, welcome them to our city, and stay off of your phones & devices when runners are around”. I thoroughly enjoyed her cut and dry approach to the rules of the marathon.
I knew right off the bat, I was in the right room. I was looking for a “restart button” to my own work energy level & fitness training that had been stuck in “stagnant mode”. A mode similar to driving a manual transmission with a four cylinder engine (when you’re used to an 8 cylinder).
I’ve learned over the last few months that I’m not ready to retire anytime soon, with my career as a flight attendant, or with other work projects. No sense either in taking on anything without my usual style of “Gung Ho”. I’m grateful I was permitted to work at the expo.
After orientation, I followed behind other volunteers and everyone settled in a number bracket, two by two. On day one, my coworker was Kevin Vargas, who worked for Adidas, lived in Brooklyn & was planning to run on Sunday. He was equally as motivated to check in runners & we were both waiting with bells on. We decided we’d wish everyone a personal best. I was especially glad he was fluent in Spanish as we had runners from Spain & Mexico.
One thing I’ve learned in my own experience as a runner (going either abroad, or within the US), is to thank runners for making the trip to the race. They worked the trip and race into their budgets. I asked 95% of everyone I helped if it was their first race, or first NYC.
Language barriers were seldom a problem. Kevin was fluent in Spanish & on my other side (in the next booth). a man & his son were from Poland, & spoke Polish fluently. This was a blast with all three runners I checked in from Poland. I turned them right over to my Polish friends so they could have a “homeland chatski”. It brought a lot of laughs.
Day one of my volunteer efforts included helping Ultramarathoner Mariano Ontanon get film (along with Kevin) for ESPN Run (@EspnRun) TV. We did 4 takes and Mariano’s photographer, Alvaro Stocker, was a scream. I got a lot of laughs with this. We had time to do different angles between other runners who were checking in. Kevin knew Mariano’s race experience & clued ne in. Mariano won an Ultramarathon, totally out of my comprehension, and a gift also possessed by Brian Ankers,’15 Connemara 100 winner . (I met Brian and his family several years ago, great people).
Between runners, there were gaps and time to talk, and on day two my coworker was Celebrity Fitness trainer Amber Rees, who helped co-found @bravebodyscape fitness. I told her about Jordan Metzl, my friend who she didn’t know. I had no idea how many different concepts there were in fitness before I met Amber. The city was packed with them and it sounded so fun. I shared my latest project with a photo shoot on the horizon & Amber was nothing but positive in encouraging anything.
I left on day one and chatted with runners in the expo on the Gate River Run (mostly with people in the United States), and on day two, I chatted with some workers of some of the booths.
The most common question I got was if I had done a NYC marathon. I was glad I could say “Yes, 3, but I’m not running this year”. The energy was so positive and I left motivated to work harder.
I encourage anyone to either run the marathon or volunteer to work the expo. You’ll meet energetic people and get new ideas.
@bethadair13, Twitter & Instagram