|As runners prepare to have their physical and mental fitness tested from the typically warm and tranquil base to the often fierce and unpredictable summit in the upcoming Delta Dental Mt. Washington Auto Road Race, volunteers are also preparing to make sure that runners have what they need to safely run their best race.
This service, often done quietly and humbly, is one among the many facets of this race that makes it one of a kind. From packet pick up, through the race, to the post race lunch, to your exit, you will find these volunteers working not out of obligation or for a paycheck but out of love. A love for a sport and an event that has meaning. So much meaning that they bundle up, brave the elements, and give of themselves, expecting nothing in return.
Starting with the all important water stops spaced up the mountain you will find members of the Heartbreak Hill Striders. Named after the famous “Heartbreak Hill” of the Boston Marathon, the Striders know a thing or two about hills! Formed in 1999, the Heartbreak Hill Striders currently have more than 80 members in the Boston area. In addition to volunteering at Mt. Washington, you can find them volunteering all around the Boston area. They work with the Boston Athletic Association on the 10K, half marathon and marathon every year, as well as the Mayor’s Cup.
At the often cold, wind swept summit you will find members of the Cambridge Sports Union. Formed in 1962 by Larry & Sara Mae Berman and originally called the Metropolitan Athletic Club, their members, history, and legacy could fill a book. Sara Mae’s story alone is one for the ages. She was the first female finisher at the Boston Marathon for three years in a row from 1969-1971. This was before women were allowed to be “official” competitors. She even held the world record women’s marathon time of 3:00:35 set in 1971. Cambridge Sports Union is a running, cross country skiing, and orienteering group out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. They have been volunteering, helping, hosting, you name it, for decades and decades. Again this year, you will find Larry and Sara Mae Berman, now in their mid-eighties, at the summit of Mt. Washington handing out blankets and medals to exhausted finishers.
These groups and many more volunteers will be spaced out all over the race. Team Gloucester, Central Mass Striders, Merrimack Valley Striders, and the White Mountain Milers will be stuffing packets, helping with bib pick ups, and parking at the base. The Maine Track Club and the North Medford Running Club will be volunteering to serve lunch and clean up after lunch. The Upper Valley Running Club and the Gate City Striders will be helping at the summit and parking. These running groups plus a host of individual volunteers will make up about 90 people who will give of their time. Make sure to take a moment to thank these people for their service, true service without pay or reward, for making sure your journey is just a little smoother, a little more joyful than it may have been without their enthusiastic presence.
Finally, if you or your running club would like to get involved and volunteer at Mt. Washington, you can find more information here: Volunteer Race Support – Dental Road Race | Mt. Washington Auto Road (mt-washington.com).