Tuesday, March 8, 2016

V. 1 #5  Being a Heart Mini Race Volunteer
by Mark Jones

I ran several of the early Heart Mini-Marathons, helped on a bunch of them, and served on the Race Committee for a number of years as the unofficial representative of the City of Cincinnati, my employer.

First my confession:  I was the 'helper' that grabbed the wrong card sequence and messed up the recording of the finishers of the first Mini-Marathon.  I clearly remember a table on Fountain Square and multiple lines of finishers and 'believing' that I was expediting processing by passing out the cards on that table.  I had finished the race and knew everyone had to have a card and so stepped in to help out..... But in retrospect, could this or any other 'helper' mistake have made the situation any worse.  Well, that's my story and I am sticking to it!!

And as I recall, that race morning started out badly when Mike Boylan dropped his car keys in his office building elevator and they slipped thru the crack into the elevator shaft.  Or was that some other pre race morning when Mike was caught up the preparation frenzy?

I got the Kid's Run started in 1981.  The kids ran around the block of Convention Center with volunteers spaced around on the sidewalk.  I was terrified that some kid would fall down into the street and traffic, but so far as I know, all survived.  We had a party for the kids inside afterwards and Kroger generously donated drinks, cookies, etc.  It was an easy event to get volunteers to help out.

At some point, I started managing the press truck and for several years roared down Columbia Parkway with a load of press and photographers.  It was exciting to see the top runners and the race competition unfold.  

There were annual mini-crises over a number of years when the City and City police tallied up the cost of all the police protection on race day.  We went back and forth with City Council questioning whether the Mini (and other races) should pay for police protection, some part of the cost, or the City should absorb in as its contribution to a huge municipal event.  

Gosh, how many nights did many of us stuff bags of numbers, t-shirts, etc. at the Oak Street Heart Association offices?  And how many times did I cringe with alarm when I saw runners in the pre-race weeks jogging out and back on Columbia Parkway that had no shoulder or sidewalks..... 

I still have several earlier framed Heart Mini-Marathon posters, autographed by John Maggard and, I think, one by Bill Rodgers - these and many recollections are benefits from volunteering.

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