Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon Weekend: Volunteering at the Finish Line

My Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon race morning did not start off well. I overslept my alarm, couldn’t find a lot to use my VIP parking pass and was UBER late for my assigned volunteer shift. Once I got myself checked in, I found my way to the finish line area to find this friendly face:


My partner-in-crime: the one and only Katie Heddleston!

She was elbows deep in Powerade when I found her! We started by helping fill cups of the beverage for the race finishers to pick up after they were done. It was a neat process: we’d pour Powerade powder mix into a trashcan lined with a trash bag, then add large amounts of water to make the beverage you are used to seeing in a 20 oz. bottle. Then once mixed, one person threw in paper cups, one person would fill those cups & put them on the table, then another would assemble them on the table. Quite the process!

There were post-race treats of all sorts: water, Powerade, chips & pretzels from Dandee, popsicles and, of course, bananas:


Katie RD Fun Fact of the Day: did you know one banana equals two servings of fruit?

As it got closer to 8:00AM, we moved over to our assigned position: medal distribution! There’s some important organization that goes into this simple task. The organizers had a board with the race bibs to help us tell the difference between the runners and the assigned races they were completing that day:


Also color coded were the medals: orange for the half-marathoners, blue & purple for the full marathoners:


If you know me, you know I LOVE me some color coding to keep organized, so I was ALL over this!


We waited patiently for runners to start heading our way. Before we knew it, the 10K runners arrived. It was a very competitive race with the winner coming in just under thirty minutes!! I haven’t even run a 5K under 30 minutes!


The men’s half-marathon first place finisher came in just over one hour and ten minutes:


That’s when we really got to work. As time lapsed, more runners finished and we’re ready to get their race bling. As a distributor, I realized it can be a tricky task. The medals are rubber banded together, but still tend to get tangled in transport. Upon getting them out of their packaging, we had to untangle our medals bundles to be able to hand out medals to keep the runners moving along the finishers area. It could get stressful when you had a bunch of tired runners waiting for you!

That said, we had an absolute ball handing out medals. We knew a ton of folks running the races and saw so many friendly faces:

  • We were proud to give medals to Katie’s relatives, blog friends Kali from Finishing Firsts, Steph from Hungry in CLE and Alycia from Fit & Fresh, and my sorority sister Devon!
  • In addition, I gave medals to people I knew from high school that I didn’t even know they were running the race – congrats to Scott, Jay and Meghan on great races!
  • I FINALLY got to meet Dr. Mo from Fit In My Heart who ran the Disney Half this past January – so happy you tracked me down!
  • On my way back to my car, I saw Jess whom was ROCKIN’ mile 25 – girl you looked AMAZING 25 miles in!
  • And even with all the people we did give medals to, there were people we knew that we didn’t even see – congrats to Brian, Ryan, Kristian, Alana, Allison, Matt, Becca, Brandon and everyone that I’m forgetting!!

Once we were done volunteering, Katie and I were able to enjoy the VIP Brunch before having some fun on the field at Cleveland Browns stadium.


I swear that smile never left my face Sunday morning. I knew if I wasn’t running I would want to hand out medals after my own personal medal moment at the Disney half. There were runners smiling, crying, laughing, wincing – all emotions were at that finish line. I was so honored to give them that item that would always remind them of that morning. When they look at that shiny guitar, they’ll remember just how insanely proud of what they accomplished. It’s an awesome feeling!

Thanks again to the Cleveland Marathon organizers for a great morning! Here’s hoping I’ll be able to earn my own half-marathon medal next year!

Disclosure: I was asked to be an official Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon blogger. Since I wasn’t running, I offered to blog about my volunteering experience.  In agreeing to do so, I was offered a race entry that I gave away to a reader, access to VIP events and some race memorabilia. As always, my thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.

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  1. Kaitlin says:

    The Cleveland Half was my very first half marathon, all the way back in 2007, just after graduating BW! It was such a FUN race, and the medal from that one is still my favorite, I LOVE the spinning guitar. That is awesome that you got to volunteer for it!

  2. Brian says:

    Sorry I missed you at the finish – it was crazy busy and all I wanted was the metal and about 10 liters of water. PS – the popsicles were the most delicious thing I think I have ever eaten in my life…

  3. Green Dog Wine says:

    YAY! Thanks for volunteering! 🙂 So bummed I didn’t get to see you! Kristin said you were over on the right hand side of the finish line – I came in on the very very edge of the left hand side!

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