Race Volunteering & To Carry a Cup, Bottle, Belt, Pack or Not

Today I volunteered at the San Felipe Shootout Race at Stephen F. Austin State Park, west of Houston. Runners could choose the 5K, the 10K (held an hour later) or the half marathon (held two hours after the 10K) or all three for the shoot-out.

I started volunteering at packet pick-up. It was so cold (50 maybe and good race weather) that I could hardly get my shivering fingers to attach safety pins to bibs.

Later, I moved on to an aid station. We had pretzels dipped in Nutella, dates, Fig Newtons and much more. It might have been about 80 degrees (not good race weather!) when the runners finished the last race so they were thirsty. Because it was a cupless race and many runners didn't bring cups, we ended up using cups for some, but it looked like going without cups saved on a lot of trash.

It was fun to help today and because I volunteered I'll be able to run an upcoming 50 mile or 50K ultra for free - a savings of $80-90! After seeing the runners in today's heat, I'm leaning more towards the 50K rather than the 50 mile race held next month.

I'm trying to decide on whether I'd use a handheld bottle, hydration belt or hydration pack in the upcoming race. I've tried them all on long runs. The handheld would probably be the most comfortable, but I'd have to stop for many refills. Even if there isn't a line at the fluid station, it takes time to fill bottles and the minutes add up.

Having lots of options is a good thing, though... Not always, but in these non-life threatening decisions, yes! No?!

Comments

  1. Love that you volunteered! What a great way to help out AND scope out what other ultramarathoners do.

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    1. I've noticed that the ultrarunners in the lead usually have a handheld or a pack. While filling bottles with ice on Saturday, I realized that having a wide-mouthed bottle is the best if you want ice added.

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  2. That's great that you get a free registration for a race just by volunteering. I have several hydration packs I have used through training but I always seem to go back to the handheld one. -L

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    1. Yes! Receiving a free race registration by volunteering is the best!

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  3. I've been thinking about volunteering at the 50 mile race I did last May - I think it would be fun!!!
    I hate carrying stuff when I run - my belt is fairly comfortable and it holds 2 good sized water bottles.

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    1. For me, my favorite race volunteer position has been at an aid station. I like seeing the runners and chatting with them about the race. I hope you get the chance to volunteer!

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  4. I am super indecisive, so having too many options is actually a bad thing for me.

    Also nutella dipped pretzels sound delicious!

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    1. Nutella dipped pretzels - yes, yum! We had strawberries, too - good in Nutella, too!

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  5. What a great way to get a free entry to a race! I really like to run halfs with my hydration belt. I never have to stop at the water stations and can breeze right through. I can't run and drink out of a cup anyway, but my little water bottles are great!

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    1. Race discounts are great! There are a few reasons, but the free entry is one reason I chose to run this race.

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  6. I can't imagine doing a long run/race having to hold something the entire way. I'd opt for the fuel belt. In re- to the hydration packs, if there is one area that perspires on me it would be my back and I'd end up chaffed. Can't wait to hear about your run. Good luck.

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    1. Thanks, a hot back is a good reason not to use the pack especially since it might get warm later in the day.

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  7. Great that you volunteered, volunteers so important. The free entry to the race is great too...hoping you chose the 50 miler :)

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    1. Still undecided on the distance. I sure am glad that I've been able to wait this long - with the race on 4/25.

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  8. That is wonderful to get a free race entry for your volunteer services. It's hard for me to carry anything in a race, but I have. I can't really weigh in on a 50k or 50 miler, but I might opt for the pack and not a belt.

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    1. I had to carry the bottle during long training runs to get used to it. On one run, I experimented with not changing hands every mile or so - makes one arm too tired!

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  9. Awesome that you volunteered! I'd love to volunteer this year at the race which was my first marathon last year.

    The only one I've never tried is the hand held bottle. I feel like I would hate having to hold onto something the entire race. I've used a FuelBelt and now a hydration pack. The FuelBelt was okay but mine always slid around on me and the bottles were a little too small for me. I like the hydration pack, it can hold much more fluid plus it's got pockets for things like gels, phone, etc. But, it is heavier and I had to get used the sound of the water sloshing around as I ran.

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    1. That's why I like a pack - it carries so much! You should be able to get rid of the sloshing sound by turning your pack upside-down, squeezing the bite valve and pushing on the bladder to get the air out. Hope that helps!

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  10. I can't imagine carrying a handheld that long! If it works for you that's great. I take my Nathan pack that holds 2 liters on really hot runs and I always feel slower as soon as I out it on, but hydration is a must :)
    I love the idea of oranges after a race! I've only had oranges at one event, but it was so refreshing.

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    1. I brought along some orange quarters on a recent 12 mile run and they tasted really good.

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  11. So awesome that you volunteered.
    And I am a CamelBak girl. I can't have stuff in my hands.

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    1. My hydration pack is a Camelbak and the larger one I borrow from my husband is a Camelbak, also.

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  12. I have never run a race or a workout carrying water or using a hydration pack. I have been lucky enough to drop bottles for workouts, and the one 32 miler was a 3 mile loop, and they had 2 water stations :) Pretty good for the minimalist in me.
    I think I would opt for the hydration pack--

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    1. I don't usually drop bottles, but did on a recent long run when I wanted to bring a couple of different drinks. When I saw more people entering parks with their dogs, I started worrying one of them would find my bottle. It seemed to be ok when I picked it back up though!

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  13. I've been doing my long runs with an ultra marathoner (he puts me to shame!) I always see him with a camel back.

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    1. A Camelbak hydration pack is what mine is and the one I borrow from my husband. His has a back pocket that is easier to get to and mine is lighter and carries 35 oz.

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  14. I had my first race volunteer experience last weekend and I had a blast. I already respect and appreciate race volunteers, but even more so now. That's great that you get a free entry into another race, too. Personally, I love my hydration pack the best for longer runs. The pack doesn't bother me at all, I can avoid crowded aid stations (more of a road race issue), and my hands are free to catch me when I fall.

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    1. Volunteering can be really fun! This time I had the opportunity to work with one of the race directors and get to know her a little bit and to learn a little about what it's like to direct a race.

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    2. Your Nathan Intensity hydration pack sounds like a good one! I'll be sure to look into that one if I ever buy another one. I like the color and the handy pockets in front.

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