The Best High Five: A Runner’s Thank You to Volunteers

Most runs and walks that happen are usually tied to an important cause. As runners step across the finish line, they are celebrated for their willingness to sacrifice, to give so much of themselves for a good cause.

But they’re not the only ones to be celebrated.

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October 18, 2015 – a group of us were about to run our very first half marathon – the Nike Women’s Half Marathon. As we made our way to downtown San Francisco to join the over 25,000 runners, you couldn’t help but be amazed by the amount of work it took to put together an event like this. Days before the run I had spent the afternoon reading Yelp reviews on the run (yes, there are Yelp reviews) and the one common thread with all the reviews was the experience of the run.

And what an experience it was.

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As the 25,000 runners prepared to take on this challenge, volunteers had already been up hours before hand preparing for the day. Some checked in our bags, others picked up clothes dropped along the way, some filled cups of water to hand out and others, woke up early and braved the San Francisco cold to cheer us on. Their job was to give us high fives and encourage us to take one more step, one more stride and make our way closer to the finish line.

 It didn’t seem like a big job, but for runners like myself – they were one of the most important reasons we made it through each mile.

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There was a moment early in the race when the thought of being able to make all 13.1 miles seemed like a daunting task. Overwhelmed at the thought of just how far we still had left, I was met with a group of volunteers standing in two lines with their hands out.

Runners had the option: run by them or run through them.   And at that very moment I learned that though running is a solo sport, it’s not a solo race.

So I ran through them, hands out receiving such powerful high fives. And I just kept running towards them – if their hands were out my hand was there to greet it.

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So we may be the ones who ran for the cause that day, but the kindness of these volunteers is what brought us to the finish line. Their cheers, signs and much needed high fives at the right moment were the unsung heroes of that day.

Contributed By: Renezen Benedicto, Northern California