Recently, Rachel asked if I would like to volunteer for the 15th Annual Komen Northeast Ohio Race for the Cure. Other coworkers of Target were going to help and she wanted to help too. Having friends and family members that have dealt with cancer, I thought it was a worthy cause. All we were supposed to do is to stand at the midpoint and hand out water. How hard could that be?
When she said we would have to get up at 4:00 AM on a Saturday, I should have reconsidered. I get up early every weekday; I like to sleep in on the weekend. Nevertheless, last Saturday, we got up early and eventually headed out. Our instructions said to meet near Burke Lakefront Airport between 6:00 and 6:30 AM.
Not having much cash, we parked by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The attendant in the booth said we needed to talk to someone else. We drove on a short bit, and found the next attendant who was sitting in his car. I do not blame him much. It had been raining for quite some time. We would, however, appreciated a sign or something that told us where we needed to be.
We found a parking spot and started walking to the midway point. It was only about a mile away and we figured the exercise would be good for us. We eventually came to a terminal that had several vehicles and a police car. We thought that this was where we were supposed to meet. After conferring with everyone, they realized that they could not park there. So, we waited while everyone else drove off to find a parking spot.
After some time, we realized that we were probably not at the midpoint. Therefore, we continued walking east. After some time, we found the midpoint. Hardly anything was set up. The only “tent” that was there was for medical purposes. We had to stand out in the rain. We did bring an umbrella. Unfortunately, it broke during our long walk. I eventually had to take off my glasses because I got tired of wiping off the rain.
The midpoint was on a traffic island between a freeway off ramp and two other roads. We had to wait while city officials ran water lines from a nearby hydrant. I did not realize that this water was potable. Of course, it probably was not any worse than the rainwater that would also be filling the cups. It did not take long to set up and fill a few thousand cups. We finished around 8:00 AM. As the race did not start until 9:15 AM, we had an hour to kill. Fortunately, Target provided us with free donuts, fruit, snacks, coffee, and hot chocolate. Rachel and I helped ourselves and then meandered for a bit.
One of the organizers gave us instructions on how to hand out the cups. It seemed a bit silly. I figured that most of the people would be walking. But, when I heard that there was an estimated forty thousand racers, I took it a bit more seriously. Runners would just grab the cups and throw them down, sometimes at your feet. It was important not to be offended and to keep encouraging the participants.
Shortly after 9:00 AM, a female runner appeared on the overpass. We all cheered as she approached us. At first, she refused some water. As the “race” was only three miles, I was not too surprised. Eventually, she gave in and took a cup. I was a bit surprised, however, when she finished the water while standing at a trash can before tossing the cup away.
When she stopped at the nearby news van, I figured they were just interviewing her. After awhile, we realized that she was just one of the reporters! A few minutes later, the first few runners appeared. Then, the floodgates opened. I would guess that at least ten to twenty thousand people passed by.
Most of the people were in good spirits. They would thank us and praise Target. Some of the people were in shock when we told them they could just throw the cups on the ground. A few knuckleheads threw their cups up and back into the race.
Rachel and I stood together. I would hold a tray of cups and she would hand them out. As we were at the end of the line, I did not expect many people to take water from us. At the beginning of the water line, cups and trays were flying. At our end, it was thankfully much slower. I did have one woman take water from me just because the “guy at the end never hands out any water.”
A few racers brought their dogs along. We would hold the cups while the dogs could get a quick drink. Had we thought about it (and had it not been raining), we would have brought our dogs. I was surprised at the number of people on their cell phones. Seriously, what is so important that you have to make phone calls while running?
After what seemed to be an eternity, the racers finally started to thin out. Finally, a police officer came up the road. Using his loudspeaker, he said that the race was over. He also went on to say how cops prefer bagels to doughnuts.
Thanks to some of the volunteers cleaning up during the race (and many people who refused to litter) cleanup only took about five minutes. Rachel and I each got Target-branded t-shirts and bandanas. They also gave us gift bags. Since they had an abundance of food, they were pushing food on everyone. We took home a dozen doughnuts.
We had only walked a bit to the car when one of the medial personnel drove up to us and stopped. He asked us if we needed a ride. Had it not been raining and had we not been holding bags and a cardboard box that was quickly deteriorating, we might have refused. We got in and he dropped us off near our vehicle.
After fighting traffic for some time (and some inept traffic cops), we were finally on the way back home. Once home, we quickly got out of our rain-soaked clothed. Both of us were more tired than we should have been. We eventually realized that we suffered a bit of windburn. After sleeping for a while, we got up and checked out the bounty in our gift bag.
Each of us received another bandana, a tin of sugar-free mints, some gum, and a $10 gift card (to Target of course). Included was also a first aid kit. It is nice and compact. I would put something like that in my vehicle (if I did not already have a few medial kits). My favorite item was a personal battery-operated fan. Okay, it sucked as a fan. But, when the blades rotated, a series of lights would alternate between the Target logo and their name. Even without the swag, it was a fun event. If our schedule is clear, we might try this next year.
Sufficiently rested, it was time to turn to dinner. Continuing our quest to make the majority of all our meals, we made cornbread pie. It had cornbread on the top and bottom with ground beef, onions, cheese, and jalapeños. We both thought that there were too many onions. But, it was still quite good. We will toss this recipe into our “keep” pile (after a few modifications).