Volunteer medical staff are on standby through the entire race during the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon weekend. Photo by Matt Cecill/Courtesy GoodLife Fitness Victoira Marathon

MARATHON HELPERS: Volunteers make this race run

GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon needs more for Oct. 5-7 weekend

For organizers and promoters of events in and around Victoria, nailing down volunteers can be a exercise in frustration, given many locals’ proclivity to wait until the last minute to declare their intentions.

Steve Duck, volunteer manager for the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon, agrees that we’re a “walk-up town” when it comes to advance planning. But he counts himself lucky that his committee for the annual running extravaganza has a significant contingent of regulars who always mark the marathon weekend on their calendars.

“We get a lot of our volunteers in the last two weeks,” he said. But we have long-term volunteers that come back year after year, which makes the acquisition and the training of volunteers a little bit easier.”

Not only that, the volunteer committee membership has been fairly stable over that time, so they get to know their volunteers well and have a good working relationship with them, Duck added.

It takes upwards of 1,600 volunteers to make the marathon run. While some people work through the year on organizational aspects, the majority put in shifts come race weekend, from handing out race packages on the Friday, to setting up the course and base on Belleville Street overnight Saturday, staffing the various routes and handing out food and beverages to finishers and other volunteers.

Organizers have never found themselves turning people away who want to help out.

“Any way we can find a volunteer, we’re out there hunting for them, whether it’s through Volunteer Victoria, at volunteer fairs, soliciting teams and clubs. We’d certainly like to let people know that more is always good. We never get our volunteer component filled and we make do with whatever we have,” Duck said.

The largest need for volunteers is at the aid stations situated at integral points on the courses, counting approximately 300 people. Not only do they provide water for runners as they pass, they are available to assist anyone who needs help.

Often teams, companies, schools or other community groups assemble to take over one station, Duck said, noting that dealing with one co-ordinator rather than 10 or more people makes the committee’s life easier. As an incentive, the Marathon provides funding for non-profits volunteering as a fundraiser.

This is also the first year that the Marathon is registering its volunteers entirely online, a move that in large part reflects a desire to secure more younger volunteers.

“We’ve got some volunteers that have been doing this for 25 years and we have others who are brand new,” Duck said. Given that volunteering isn’t as ingrained in younger generations – the people who will ultimately need to take over for longtime helpers, he said, it’s important to make it as easy as possible for them to get involved.

Online descriptions of positions and areas are a big help and prospective volunteers are encouraged to choose multiple options in case their first choice of positions fills up, or people are more needed in other areas.

To register or check out the volunteer positions, visit runvictoriamarathon.com/volunteer.

Discounted 8K price

deadline fast approaching

At the GoodLife Fitness Victoria Marathon, one of the more popular events is the 8K race.

With the races fast approaching, the next discounted price deadline for the 8K race happens Sept. 15, when the fee jumps from $40 to $45. Runners and walkers are encouraged to sign up early to avoid paying full price ($60 for race weekend signups).

The full and half marathons are well on their way to selling out, organizers say, but a slightly discounted price is still available for both events ($130 for marathon, $95 for half) until Oct. 4.

To register, visit runvictoriamarathon.com/registration.

editor@vicnews.com

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