CETUSA Volunteering at the 2017 NYC Marathon

u.s. exchange program

CETUSA J-1 program participants, along with a CETUSA representative Gwen Retterer, had the opportunity to volunteer at the New York City Marathon. It took place on November 5th, 2017. Here are their stories:

Gwen Retterer – Mile 5 in Brooklyn
Amy and I met up this morning to travel to our mile 5 fluid station in Brooklyn together. We were worried about not being able to find it, but that was quickly put to rest because we saw a flood of people in lime green ponchos as we came up from the subway station. We happened to see the group of the lead female runners go by. It was an exciting way to get started. At our fluid station, there was a long stretch of tables near to the sidewalk, then a parallel set of tables in the middle of the road. We were going to go to the tables in the middle of the road, however once the runners started to come there was no way we could cross the street without interfering in their race. It was incredible the amount of people that ran by us. We ended up staying on the side of the street we entered on and I went back behind the tables to help fill water cups. Volunteering at the marathon was a very touching experience. Being there in person, I could understand why volunteers really make that race what it is–all the cheering, shouts of encouragement, ‘thank you’ from the runners, and working together with other volunteers made for a memorable day. It was amazing to hear and see the river of people coming down the street towards the fluid station. I would do it again in heartbeat.

Fluid Station at Mile 5 in Brooklyn
Fluid Station at Mile 5 in Brooklyn. A large group of runners are going by and the J-1’s were great about cheering everyone on!

Mmatseke Meta Amelia Jessica Mampana (Amy) – Mile 5 in Brooklyn
This was my first time experiencing the New York Marathon. All the runners have really inspired me a lot to better myself and that anything is possible. The event really surprised me because it was extremely well-organized and planned for. From registration to finish, everything was simple, fun, and energetic. I was also surprised to get feedback from the runners (during the race) acknowledging all the volunteers as they passed by while grabbing some water to drink. This has been an inspiring occasion. I would recommend J-1’s to take the opportunity and volunteer at this prestigious marathon. One gets to network with a wide range of professionals and other J-1 participants from all over the world.

Handing out water to the runners
Handing out cups to runners is harder than it looks! Jodi had great advice in how to successfully give runners their fluids.

Jodi Hamilton – Mile 5 in Brooklyn
This was without a doubt one of the most surprisingly rewarding volunteering experiences I’ve had. Standing in a line of green ponchos with a cup of Gatorade in hand, I never expected that through the 50,000+ TCS NYC Marathon participants that you could connect like we did. I quickly learned that there was a strategy to getting the liquid to the runner and not all over yourself. You needed to smile your biggest smile and look for eye contact, connect with your runner, they’d point at you and come in for their drink. With a quick exchange of supporting words they were on their way. The genuine gratitude openly shared from the participants warms you up from the inside. Runner after runner would come by cheering on the volunteers, thanking us for being there for them. Even running past taking photos or video footage of the volunteers… that’s how important the volunteers are to their experience. The day before the marathon we attended the reception at the United Nations Plaza, when leaving a security guard said he did the marathon in 1995 and it was the volunteers he remembers most from that experience. There were so many others with similar stories, it wasn’t until being there layered up in my poncho I truly believed their stories. An inspiring event to be a part of. I was also surrounded by a group of energetic, loud, and super fun J1 participants from Columbia. They brought hype. What a vibe. When the last runner came by, it was time to clean up. Very few words were exchanged on how or what needed to be done, but it was obvious and everyone pitched in and cleared it up in no time. Proud effort to be a part of. I have already registered to participate in the same station next year.

CETUSA volunteers clean up the water cups
Along with helping to pass out water/Gatorade to runners, all the J-1’s helped to clean up the cups on the ground after all the runners/walkers went by.

Yosuke Okubo – Mile 18 in Manhattan
The NYC Marathon volunteer event was so interesting for me. At the NY Marathon, I got thankful words from many runners despite being tired. It was a pleasure and surprised me. And I felt sports activity in the US is marvelous. I want to give feedback to Japan. Of course I recommend strongly to J-1’s. This volunteering is a good opportunity to see many people and make friends.

CETUSA volunteers
Left to right: Amy, Gwen, and Jodi after finishing their volunteer shift.

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