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4 Ways Runners Can Give Back

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4 Ways Runners Can Give Back


A couple months ago, I was volunteering for the Toronto race, Sporting Life 10K. It involved getting up super early on a Sunday and standing for over 3 hours at the finish line. While on paper, it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, I had a blast. It was so inspiring seeing everyone cross the finish line, from the speedy elites to the walkers with their families. I was honestly overwhelmed by happiness seeing families running together, holding hands, and crossing the finish line.

After the event, I got an email from the race director thanking everyone for volunteering. A lot of races would not be possible if it was not for volunteers. Lots of races would not be possible if it wasn’t for the those volunteering their time and effort. So in this blog post, I’ll be listing the ways that we as runners (or even non runners!) can give back!

Volunteer at a race

I have a friend that for every 4 races he runs, he will volunteer for 1. A pretty good motto to run by. When volunteering for a race, you could be doing anything from marshalling the course to handing out water. As a teenager, I used to wake up at 4AM and be shuttled off with my classmates to go help with baggage check for races in Toronto. I personally had a lot of fun volunteering with my friends and it was great being able to make a runner’s race day slightly easier by ensuring that we did what we were supposed to.

Clean up some trails

While some of us are good at leaving nothing but our footprints in trails, not everyone is good with that. Every once in a while, a group of runners in Toronto will go for a trail run specifically to clean the trail up! All you need is a plastic bag and some friends and into the trail you go, keeping your eyes peeled for abandoned gel packets or wrappers.

Donate running shoes

Many local running stores will take donations of used running shoes. In Canada, we have a few shops called Running Free that will collect and store thousands of pairs of shoes, which are then distributed through the greater Toronto Area’s homeless community as well as other areas of the world like Africa, South America, and Haiti. Other places might collect used shoes to grinds them into material that make athletics and playground surfaces.

Raise money

I’m currently raising money with RBC Race for the Kids to help youth find the mental health support they need. The next time you pick a race, consider raising money for a charitable cause as a way of giving back.

QOTD: What’s a way you give back to the community?

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14 thoughts on “4 Ways Runners Can Give Back

  1. The photo with the bear at the porta potty cracks me up for some childish reason. 😉 I love seeing posts like this and hearing about ways to give back. My husband did a century ride over the weekend and people donating old bikes to the boys and girls club along with the riders who raised money for it. Like you said it’s great to be able to give back!

  2. Great post, Carmy! Volunteers are an integral part of a race which is why I remind them how important they are by thanking them when I grab water or Gatorade from them and splash half of it on their clothes or face! I’ve run a few races where volunteers high-five each other because it was their cup a runner grabbed! They really get into it and it’s awesome! I would love to marshal a CRS race in the future; I just need to find one I’m not actually racing in!

  3. I love the idea of donating some running shoes! But I also love that you added options that just require your time! So many things cost money and sometimes it’s hard to contribute but donating time doesn’t give anyone and excuse!

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