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The people make the race great

July 22, 2014 - Art Smith
One of the neat things about working on the News and Sentinel Races is the chance to work with such a diverse group of people that makes up the event.

The races are, above all, community events. That fact is reflected by those that help stage the annual races, which include the Half Marathon, the Two Mile Race as well as group of races for kids.

At the core of the races is a huge group of volunteers, around 1,000 in all, which performs tasks both big and small. Leading the group is, of course, the race director, Chip Allman, but the races are also helped by countless people who will know no glory from their day of standing in the hot sun, or serving pasta, or shouting words of encouragement to racers as they pass the water stops. Their attitude and drive is what makes our race so special, and it one of the things that keep people coming back year after year. Those who take part in the races also reflect the "can do" attitude. Most runners and walkers know when they step up to the starting line that they stand no chance of being the first to cross the finish line 13.1 miles later. They do it to challenge themselves. I'm inspired by every person who laces up for the race.

On race day I have a great job, I move around the race courses and make sure everything is running all right. Because of the great group of volunteers, it normally is. I frequently stop and talk to some of the volunteers, who frankly seem to be having just as much fun as the racers.

I care a lot about the racers who fill the space between the lead pack and the bike patrol that keeps an eye on the very end of the race, if you are part of this group I may have handed a cold bottle of water or sports drink from a golf cart at the top of the 13th Street Hill in the past. You make the months of prep that we go through worth it because you don't give up. Perhaps you weigh more than you should, perhaps you have to use a walker to help your balance, perhaps you have made it through eight decades and you are not going let the fact that you are midway through your ninth stop you from doing 13.1 miles. You do not give up, and that's why the races exist. It's why we sponsor it, it's why so many other organizations help out and it is why the volunteers give up their third Saturday in August every year to help.

Aug. 16 will be here before you know it. Sign up for the Half or Two Mile. Be part of something big.


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Volunteers help a runner at last year's News and Sentinel Half Marathon.