On Sunday I volunteered at Brooks Brighton 10k (love this race as a runner and a volunteer)! Last year we had a wail of a time on car park duties and on the route and then helped dish out bags after, but this year me and Nik (minus Michelle and our gorgeous friend Sam) we were allocated bag drop - from set up to clearing away (there were others by the way it wasn't just me and Nik serving over 3,000 runners). We had the most organised baggage section which would have been so easy when it came to pick up. Unfortunately Richard - the lovely organiser of bag drop - decided that Nik and I were far too organised and moved us to the section that resembled the above photo.
We had such a laugh - it helps that it's a local race so there are familiar faces and friends running. It was a knackering but brilliant day and on Monday morning my back felt like it had been battered with 3,000 bags. I absolutely love volunteering it's amazing how satisfying it can be when runners thank you personally for whatever you've done. I can't wait to have another opportunity.
Here are my tips for the smooth running of bag drop.
- Keep calm, make sure you have liquid refreshment to hand & brace yourself
- If the event doesn't supply their own bag labels make sure you have plenty of sturdy tags of some description and a Sharpie - don't bother with sticky address labels they were rubbish!
- Stand in one place and only accept bags for that particular area (none of this running up and down the bag area - you're wasting far too much energy). Be courteous to the runners (most of whom will be in a flap because they've left it til the last minute to get the race) and ask them kindly to move to the section where their bag will be held.
- Chat to the runner as you're writing their number on the tag and wish them luck as they trundle away - you'll be amazed at how that makes them feel!
- If it's not too busy try and keep the bags in a rough numerical order.
- As soon as the runners have all headed to the start line start "fine sorting" your baggage area - it really helps if you have OCD doing this job. Make sure you have enough space between the bags to move later!
- Once you've sorted your own baggage area move along and help someone who is totally disorganised. No-one likes a shirker!
- If you haven't already - now's the time to take a drink!
- Once the race has finished have one person (me on this occasion) at the barrier and your best buddy (Nik) standing among the bags. If you can, clock the runners number as they're coming towards you and shout number to best bud. If you're bag area is fine sorted this will be really easy!
- Once it gets busy it's best to ask the runner for a description of the bag - shout number and description to buddy and then collect the bag and hand it to the runner. If it's taking a while to find the bag ask the runner how their race went. Thank them for being patient. By the way just because the runner says it's a black rucksack (or whatever the description is) doesn't necessarily mean it is. Runners are forgetful and/or colourblind and your idea of a rucksack/holdall/suitcase may be completely different to the owner of the item!
- As soon as the bag drop is clear tidy up and then help with any other jobs you can see need doing - like picking up discarded banana skins, gel packets, undrunk water/sports drink bottles and discarding clothing!
Have you got any top tips for volunteering?