How to “Run” a Running Club
Q: What does a running club run on?
A literal answer, of course, might be, “Our FEET (or legs) … DUH!!”. But, in a figurative sense, it’s really our volunteers that ‘make the club go’! From our races, to our Fun Runs, to our social activities, all our events require volunteer efforts to plan and execute. Without volunteers, there are no events!
The bulk of our volunteer efforts are performed by your Wind Drinkers officers, race directors, and committee members. This involves scheduling events, coordinating with land and venue managers, plotting out race courses, meeting with vendors who support our events with timing services, porta-potties, refreshments, etc. It also covers related administrative functions like managing memberships and running the business side of the club – functions like registering with the state and filing tax returns. Unlike some large running clubs, which can afford to pay CEO’s to manage club activities, these functions are all performed by volunteers, in the Big Sky Wind Drinkers (with the exception that we DO pay some of the race directors of our largest race events). In addition to these “standing” volunteer roles, we also solicit volunteers from our membership to support additional needs for specific events – these might include helping with Sweet Pea registration, or flagging along a race course, or, for some of our smaller runs, help with handing out race bibs, or performing hand timing functions. This support is critical to our being able to hold our events, which is one reason we require people to volunteer in order to earn participation awards during our Fun Run seasons.
Over the past several years (seemingly, since COVID first started impacting our events), we have struggled to get the volunteers we need to conduct our events. For many of our Fun Runs, volunteer timer and run support positions go unfilled, and this impacts the conduct of the events – from delays in posting results, to errors in capturing race times, or not having refreshments available for all the runners at the end of a run. This past summer, we went almost a whole month (4 Fun Runs) when we had no one who volunteered for any of our Fun Run volunteer positions. So far this Winter season, we are seeing a similar trend – of the 10 volunteer positions we have posted for our upcoming Winter Fun Run events, only 1 has been filled.
Our Board of Directors is trying to address this issue. The first step is making sure our members are aware of the need (hence, this article!). We discuss making sure the Vice-Presidents mention the need for volunteers in their pre-run announcements at Fun Runs, but sometimes, in the excitement of listing upcoming races and explaining the race course, this call for volunteers gets overlooked. Aside from knowing of the need, though, what might motivate our members to increasingly volunteer? We would love to come up with some creative incentives to bolster our volunteer numbers – if you have an idea you’d like to suggest, please let us know your ideas, using one of our Contact forms (on the right side of our Officers and Contacts page, at https://winddrinkers.org/trailhead/club/officers/)!
Volunteering can really be fun – it’s a great way to participate in running events when you can’t, or don’t want to, run (e.g., due to injury, or tapering for a major race), and is a way for non-running friends and family to be involved! Right now, our biggest needs are for race-day support of upcoming Winter Fun Runs. Our website’s Volunteers page (https://winddrinkers.org/trailhead/fun_runs/volunteers/) has a listing of available volunteer positions, and signing up for one of them only requires a click and entering your name and email address! We are particularly in need of help for our first event of the new year, the Resolution Run (also known as the Fat Ass 50K) on January 7th – and, unlike last year, I can promise you it won’t be 26 Below for the 2023 edition!
Whether volunteering, or simply coming out to run, we look forward to seeing you at BSWD runs in the New Year – the Wind Drinkers’ 50th Anniversary Year!