This weekend I volunteered for the Hot Chocolate 15K/5k Chicago. This is just one of several runs and triathlons organized by RAM Racing annually. It is called, “Chicago’s Sweetest Race” because the after party offers hot cocoa and chocolate fondue provided by race sponsor Ghiradelli.
On Thursday morning I made my way to Union Station to help at the Expo, where race participants pick up bibs & timing chips, race jackets and goodie bags. My assignment was in the registration envelope pick up room. With nearly 40,000 participants it was an elaborate set up in a room just off the Grand Hall not normally open to the public.
There were about two dozen volunteers in that stage, and I stood on the 15k side where we greeted runners, pulled out their packet, answered questions about the process or the event and sent them on to the next stage. After 4 1/2 hours my shift was over and I headed home.
On Saturday morning, I had to report at Grant Park by 6:30 so I could pick up course credentials, a volunteer sweatshirt and a quick cup of coffee. While waiting in the hospitality tent I noticed that some volunteers had bullhorns so I asked how I could get one. As a course marshal all I had to do was leave a valid drivers license to check one out.
At 7 AM they rounded up a van load of us to be driven to the course, and when we arrived at the first intersection two of us jumped out. It was the corner of Franklin and Randolph near the one mile marker where both runs passed through. My partner was Michael, a recent veteran of the War in Afghanistan. He is a running enthusiast and had his own cowbells to cheer on the runners. We introduced ourselves to the Traffic Management Aide and waited for the race to begin.
Once the 5K runners started coming our way, Mike rang his cowbells and gave runners high fives, while I cheered them on with my bullhorn. About an hour later the 15K runners arrived and we cheered for them. Our ride picked us up shortly after 9 AM to take us back to the race compound where I turned in my bullhorn.
During the 5K race, I ran into an old friend, Rob Besecker, and gave him a bear hug. We met up again later and went on to the after party, listened to “Maggie Speaks”, and drank hot cocoa. He is a fellow SigEp, and Rob has been battling a heart condition most of this year. When I heard he was registering for this race I decided to volunteer, and be there for him.
Rob’s courage, determination and strength in character inspires me, and I dedicate this post to his health and recovery. God bless you Rob, and get well soon.
This was number 49 and only ONE to go!