August 13, 2020
Trail runner standing on top of a boulder field, looking out

5 Ways to give back to the Vancouver running community

The Vancouver running community is quite large, but seems like a close tight-knit group. There’s a lot of respect among local run clubs and  “free agent” runners, that there’s a sense of camaraderie at every race you attend or whenever you go for a run. If you go to enough races, you’ll see a lot of friendly, familiar faces. What if you want to do more than just attend events? What else can you do to give back to a community that has embraced you? Here are a few ways to contribute to the Vancouver running community.

Photo of the 5 Peaks ambassadors at Dash for Dogs in 2019
Volunteering with the 5 Peaks crew at Dash for Dogs in 2019 – we’ll be back in 2020.

Volunteer

Every race needs and appreciates the help of volunteers. When you donate your time to a race, you are allowing the event to happen, which makes race organizers and participants very very happy. Some races give you really cool perks for volunteering:

  • 5 Peaks gives free race entries for every 4+ hour volunteer shifts you do, and you get that race’s swag!
  • Moustache Miler gave out special Icebreaker toques for volunteers
  • Under Armour Eastside 10K pacers were kitted out in Under Armour gear
  • Coast Mountain Trail Running races give discounts to future races, and if you volunteer for the Squamish 50, you get early registration (this is worth it, the 2020 race sold out in 2 minutes)
  • Seawheeze has given out a free volunteer shirt, swag, lunch and Sunset Festival tickets

Choose a race you want to support and apply to volunteer. Other perks include meeting new people and getting to cheer on your fellow runners, especially if you’re stationed at the back half of the race where people would generally need a boost. Plus, you leave feeling good that you helped out. This is also an excellent way to still be involved in a race if you’re injured.

Under Armour Eastside 10K pace group of 2019
Under Armour Eastside 10K pace team for 2019 – photo by Rob Shaer

Cheer

Nothing makes me happier than seeing a cheer station or random people clapping and cheering for me along a race. A few run clubs like EVRC and Fraser Street Run Club tend to have cheer stations at the larger races which you can join (follow them on Facebook/Instagram to get updates) or start your own cheer corner. Bring some tunes, make funny signs, haul out the noisemakers, your friends and just have fun for a couple hours. The runners will love you.

EVRC cheer station at the First Half in 2018
EVRC cheer station at the First Half in 2018

Carpool

If you’re a part of local running groups on Facebook, chances are you’ll see someone asking for a ride. The transit system can sometimes (ok, most times) be inconvenient for runners getting to a race/event on time so a lift would be appreciated once in a while. You’ll also be helping the environment by taking another car off the road. For those getting the lift, be cool and offer to pay for gas or get them a coffee or something.

Share on social media

If you like something, tell people about it. Word of mouth reviews are the best reviews. If you like hanging out with a certain crew, found a new product you love, have helpful tips or had a blast at a certain event, share it on social media or tell others in person. Join Facebook groups and put in your two cents when someone asks for advice. Others might find your testimonials really helpful.

Start line of the Moustache Miler 2019
I photographed the Moustache Miler 2 years in a row as a volunteer gig.

Be positive and inclusive

The Vancouver running community is very positive. Regardless of skill level, everybody has their own personal goal and is putting themselves out there at races and group workouts. It’s important to welcome everyone with open arms and be encouraging without judgement. It’s what makes the community really special.

Have you volunteered for a race before? Would you consider it?

Pacing at West Van Run Summer 2018
Pacing at West Van Run Summer 2018

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