The TCS New York City Marathon brings 50,000 runners through 26.2 miles of city streets, and guiding them through the five boroughs are more than 10,000 race-day volunteers. With volunteer stations in every borough and on nearly every mile of the race, there are plenty of opportunities to be a part of the 2019 race and make your own life-long race-day memories.
But don’t take our word for it—hear from former Marathon volunteers in Manhattan, in their own words, about why you should volunteer at this year’s TCS New York City Marathon.
1. For the Sense of Community
“Volunteering at this race is a way of meeting people from all over the world and becoming a part of a team,” said a volunteer from Mile 18 in Yorkville. Another volunteer, who has served at the Mile 25 station in Central Park, said, “I love working with the NY Marathon each year because it’s a great way to get in touch with others in the New York community.”
And those bonds formed at a volunteer station on race day can last for years. As that same volunteer from Mile 25 put it, “There is a group of us that have volunteered at Mile 25 for a few years at this point and we always say it’s like a mini-reunion.”
As with all good team experiences, volunteer stations develop a strong sense of everyone working together towards one common goal.
“It is [an] experience everyone should try at least once in their lives,” remarked one volunteer at Mile 24, also located in Central Park.“There’s [a] large support system—from volunteers to volunteers, to volunteers and runners. Everyone is genuinely just wanting to make the best race day possible.”
2. For a Chance to Give Back
“I began the volunteer leadership position through my involvement with Black Girls Run. As a leader, I felt I had to give back to the running community,” said one volunteer at Mile 16, the area where marathoners are introduced to Manhattan as they come off the Queensboro Bridge. “It’s been my honor to help those who are at the back of the pack!”
Another Mile 16 volunteer revealed how they had the opportunity to give to others in a more literal sense.
“Two years ago, when there was horrible weather, an Italian runner was [drenched] and soaking wet. I took off my shirt and traded with him so he could make it through the race,” they said.
3. For the Gratitude
“My first volunteer opportunity with NYRR was in the ‘90s,” said a volunteer at the Mile 23 station in Central Park, who first became involved because his company was a corporate sponsor of the race.
“We handed out water and Gatorade to tens of thousands of runners. The runners were inspiring, and although exhausted, they would take a second to thank us for helping,” he said of that first year, which, it would turn out, would have a lasting impact on him. “It was a very rewarding experience. I’ve returned to Mile 23 every year since.”
4. To Be Inspired
If you’re looking for some extra motivation to run the TCS New York City Marathon one day, volunteering might do the trick. “I was an athlete, but not a runner,” said one volunteer from the Upper East Side’s Mile 18 station. “Volunteering at the Marathon inspires me to train and run it one day—just not this year.”
Another volunteer, from the Mile 25 station, was struck by the surge of emotions as the runners got closer and closer to completing this incredible achievement.
“[At] the final mile, you see the emotions of the athletes really coming through,” they said. “It’s a powerful opportunity to really be there for them.” Stationed just 1.2 miles from the finish line, the volunteer noted the unique task that lay before Mile 25 volunteers: “At that point in the race, sometimes it’s not just water or Gatorade they need, but a smile and a shout of encouragement to make it the final leg of the race.”
And on being in such a position to give that encouragement—or just that cup of water—the volunteer reflected, “It’s a really rewarding experience to positively support someone, even a stranger, in what for many is a bucket list achievement, face-to-face—even if only for a second.”
If those quotes moved you to get involved on November 3, then sign up now to volunteer!