Race Report (Volunteering): Soldier Field 10

Alternate title: Did someone say ‘more cowbell?’ 

In case you didn’t guess from my subject line, this morning I volunteered at the Soldier Field 10. The American Cancer Society sent out an email last week looking for people to help out at the last aid station of the race. I enjoyed this race last year, and I’ve been wanting to “give back” to the running community, and I know how much I appreciate volunteers during races. Well now, I appreciate them EVEN MORE.

Because I had a pretty early wake up call. 3:30am. The race started at 7am, but we had to be there at 5am to start setting up. I thought to myself that that seemed awfully early (emphasis on awful), considering we were the last aid station, but we actually needed all of that time.

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The nice thing about getting to a race so early is that I got to pee in not one but TWO pristine, not-yet-used (that morning) port-o-potties. Unfortunately that was so not the case after the race, on my walk back to my car.

Knowing I was at the last aid station (at mile 8.7), I walked backward on the course until I found it. It was a huge aid station – probably four tables for Gatorade and 12 tables for water, plus medical and port-o-potties. And a DJ.

Our Aid Station Captain gave us some pointers and then it was time to start filling cups.


As of yesterday, this race was yellow flagged because of the high temps. So I dressed for warm weather. I’m so glad I threw on a Fort2Base pullover before I left the house, because I was cold while we were setting up. Of course we were right by Lake Michigan and it was windy.


I got to meet Charlyn (she is not pictured), who was spectating the race and stopped by to say hi, and helped us when it looked like our top layer of cups was going to blow away. Thank you!


The first runners came past around 7:50am, and it was go time!! I tried my best to bring some energy, yelling whatever wacky stuff came into my mind while holding out cups. There was a DJ right before our aid station, so I was definitely yelling “you’re sexy and you know it!” “you work out!” along with my usual “go runners!” “lookin’ good!” “stay strong!” “you got this!” and occasionally “keep kickin’ ass!” and sometimes I’d throw in “and taking names!” Yes, I am a dork.  I got so swept up in my cheering, and yelling stuff based on what I saw on runners’ shirts. I hate to admit this, but I may or may not have spotted a Packers shirt and yelled “Go Packers!” As soon as those words slipped out of my mouth, I realized that I have been married to this man for too long. Yes, it’s my dark secret. My husband is a Packers fan.

BUT THEN! I got a cowbell in my hands and it was ON!! I started shaking it and yelling like my life depended on it. At this point the runners going past looked like they needed cheering up, so I did my best. I also started yelling things like “we love running!” “this is what we do for fun!” “it will feel so good to finish on the 50!” “you could be sleeping right now!” Some of the kids handing out cups in front of me were yelling “you’re almost there” and I told them that’s the worst thing you could yell. Unless you can see the finish line, never yell that during a race.

The crowd started thinning out, but we stayed until the very last runner went past. “I’ll keep ringing if you keep running!” may have been yelled. By me. Don’t worry, I won’t be auditioning for the Luvabulls anytime soon. Because I am clearly not a professional cheerleader – I even have a cowbell injury. It broke the skin on one finger. I also scraped my knee on a rock while we were filling cups pre-race. I don’t think I get this beat-up running races.

Anyway, I had a great time volunteering, and I got to see some of you lovely folks our there, which is always fun! I saw Britt aka Chicago Runner Girl zoom past with the other elites, and Sara aka Gingerfoxxx and Amanda spotted me. (Amanda, we need to think of a good Blogger Super Hero name for you.) I also saw April and Michelle from my group the F’N Runners, and Judith who I only know on Facebook because we both race so much.

On my walk back to my car, I had a fantastically beautiful view of the skyline, walking along the lake next to McCormick Place. The lake was blue-green with a harbor full of boats in front of the skyline, and the sky was this beautiful deep blue. Unfortunately my phone’s battery was low and I can’t take pictures when it gets too low. I stopped and tried to take a mental picture, but all I have for you is this picture of the lake near our aid station that I was able to snap right before the runners started going past.


I got home by 12:30pm and rang the cowbells for my parents and then took a nap. I had been up for 9 hours at that point. But I had a good time and I would do it again. Maybe. Not anytime soon.

Because I have four races coming up in the span of two weeks (or maybe five in three weeks):

June 2: Sunburst Half
June 9: 13.1 Chicago
June 14: Jim Gibbons 5K
June 16: Chicago Glo Run 6K
maybe June 20: Short Run on a Long Day 5K (may as well, a lot of F’N Runners are doing it)

Last night before I went to bed, I told my mom I was volunteering at today’s race and she said “why aren’t you running it?” So in addition to my excessive (clearance & sale) shopping and clothes-hoarding habit that I have learned from my mother, she also seems to approve of my excessive racing. Or at least, not question it.

Did you run the Soldier Field 10? Did you enjoy it? Did you see me with my cowbell? 

Have you ever volunteered at a race? How did it go? 

What is your favorite thing to yell or hear during a race? Between today and spectating earlier this month, I feel like I need more stuff to yell. 

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16 Comments on “Race Report (Volunteering): Soldier Field 10”

  1. Seeing you late in the the race DID perk me up just as I was seriously fading! You we’re ROCKING That cowbell I must say! Thank you! 🙂

  2. Yay for volunteering! It sounds like I would have loved running by your station. Thanks for telling people NOT to say “you’re almost there!” I do hate that.

    I ran a different 10 miler today and the volunteers were AMAZING! They did a great job with traffic and at the aid stations!

    (And I hear you on the nap! I was up at 2:30 and it felt great to take a LONG cat (true story – Data was sleeping too) nap this afternoon!)

  3. Thank you again for volunteering. I’m sad I didn’t see you (or if I did, that I didn’t process that it was you).

    I try to volunteer for at least one race a year, just to give back, because I think volunteers are so, so, so important! I’m planning on volunteering at the Chicago Marathon this year!

    1. Yes! I was able to bring two of them home (the American Cancer Society provided them) and plan on using them on Monday when I march in a parade on behalf of my sis-in-law’s dance studio … and for any future race spectating.

  4. Volunteering for a race sounds like a great thing to do! The super early wakeup call sounds rough but it looks like it was well worth it. I hope to volunteer for a marathon so it can inspire me to run one myself one day.

    Good luck on all your upcoming races!

  5. Those stacked cups are amazing! I’m jealous of your race lineup. It looks awesomely full! And it’s better to spend the dough on races now and less prescription drugs later (you know from the heart disease you avoided!).

  6. Good for you for volunteering! I’m so glad it wasn’t sizzling hot or pouring like it was up here. I did that race in 2006, sprained my ankle at mile 5 and limped it in. I’m thinking I need a redemption race.

  7. As I mentioned in my post, you’ve really inspired me to “give back” to the running community and volunteer. It was nice meeting you, and for sure we should have a blogger meet up around RnR 🙂

    And i might have posted my “seen on run” link on the wrong comments page… I dunno…

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