I Want to Rock and Roll All Day

I could do this all day long...if I had a chair.

Sunday was the PF Chang's Rock N Roll Marathon here in the Valley. The Arizona Parrot Head Club has been involved since the race's inception thanks to one of our long-time members who got us started.

Our station the past two years is at approximately mile 25 on the full marathon route. We're the last water station before the finish line and it's always amazing and fascinating to see how the athletes are doing by the time they get to us.

And they are "athletes", not "runners", despite what everyone else says (and they say it despite me correcting them, jeesh).

We start setting up at 7 AM, the full marathon starts at 7:30 and we're supposed to be cleaned up by 3 PM. They give the athletes 7 hours and 15 minutes to finish the full marathon. There were some stragglers in the final moments but as long as they kept moving they were allowed to finish. The ones who stop moving get picked up and driven to the finish line.

The first folks to come through are the wheelchair athletes. I don't think I've seen one woman in that section. Most of the guys are still looking remarkably sharp by the time they get to us but this year there were a few that looked totally pooped. One of the guys tried to get water from us but he had on really bulky gloves so he couldn't grab the cup. I imagine he was very thirsty by the end of the race.

Next up are the Elite athletes. These are the folks trying to break world records and whatnot. They usually come whipping through and looking like they aren't stressed at all. This year is the first time I've seen them take water from us. It was actually pretty warm out there. The race stats say it was 65 degrees when the race was over but it was warmer than that.

After that, there's a gap while the more average (and I actually mean above average since the average person couldn't do this) athletes make their way towards us. From then on, it's a fairly steady stream of folks coming through until the end.

The whole time the athletes are coming by, we have our music blaring and someone working the microphone. That person's job is to encourage the runners and keep the energy level up.

That person this year was me. Except for pee breaks, I was on the mic for 5 hours. That was not a problem for me at all. I only wish there had been a spotlight, too.

I did feel bad for our volunteers because they had to hear me say pretty much the same stuff all day long.

"Welcome to water station 18. We are the Arizona Parrot Head Club. This is the last stop on the full marathon so be sure to get some hydration. We have Cytomax at the front of the station in the yellow cups and water at the end of the station in the white cups."

I tried to mix it up but there were some things I had to say. The stations are judged and money donated to the charity of choice for the winners. Some of the judges are running in the pack of athletes so I wanted to get our station number and name into the message as much as possible.

I gave a shout out to everyone wearing anything Wisconsin related and even did a "Go, Buckeyes" for an Ohio guy. I also made mention of every time the firemen were near us. Our station is right by their training grounds so they were popping in and out. I did ask if it was OK for me to harass them like that and they said yes. I didn't get any dates out of it, though. Dang it.

We also tracked the Cardinals-Eagles game and gave out updates to the crowd. I found out later that a lot of the athletes switched from the full marathon to the half so they could be done before the game started. That cut down the folks who ran/walked past us to about 6,000 people.

After the race, we went across the street to a little sports bar. Once I sat down I realized just how exhausted I was. Except for the pee breaks, I hadn't sat down since 7 that morning. I was frakking beat. Several beers later, we went home and I mustered enough energy to read the Sunday paper then I was out for the night. I think I may have made to 8:30.

It was a long and tiring day for everyone involved. But, it was worth it. We performed a great service for those athletes and they let us feel like we contributed to their success. Symbiosis at its finest.

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