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Volunteering at the Finish Line – find out what’s involved

Are you new to the Run 4 Wales Extra Milers and trying to decide what volunteering role to do? We encourage you try out all our event roles but here we’ll tell you a little more about what happens on the finish line at a R4W event. 

This article is part of our Day in the Life series, going behind the scenes at R4W events, so you know what to expect when volunteering as an Extra Miler. You can also check out a guide to volunteering at the Bag Drop and a day in the life of a R4W volunteer. 

The finish line team look after the “post-finish area” where runners collect a bottle of water, their event t-shirt, medal and a piece of fruit and/or cereal bar. After crossing the finish line, runners walk through this area, collecting their items from volunteers before exiting into the race village to meet their friends and family. The Extra Miler team at the finish line will be anything from 30 volunteers to 100 volunteers depending on the size of the event. 

This is a great role to do if you have a friend or family member running, as you can welcome them back after their race and maybe even give them their medal personally!

Lorna, a regular R4W volunteer who is usually found either in the Bag Drop or at the finish line, loves congratulating runners after their race, feeling that she is sharing in their race experience and seeing them achieve their goals.  

“Volunteering at the finish line is a great experience because you see the runners achieving their goals, feeling the ‘buzz’ of crossing the line! They may have a new personal best or are running for the first time, it’s a joy to be part of their race” Extra Miler Lorna 

The finish line volunteers are one of the first Extra Miler teams to arrive on event day, checking in at the Volunteer Welcome Area (located next to the start-finish area) and collecting their race day t shirts, bags and lunch packs. There is usually time for a quick cuppa before the Supervisor will gather everyone together and walk with the volunteers to the finish line area. Here there will be a welcome briefing, before allocation to a particular finisher item. Extra Milers then work in small teams to set-up their area, unpacking medals and hanging them on the medal rack, moving water and t-shirt stocks into place and unboxing and separating bunches of bananas to make them easier to hand out to runners. Tables will need to be set up and signs or flags put into place.  

Around half the team will usually go to support the Bag Drop team, who will be at their busiest time pre-race looking after runners who are storing their bags during the race. Don’t worry, you’ll still have time for a break before returning to the finish line to welcome runners when they cross the finish line.  The fastest 10K runners will complete the race in around 30 minutes!  

“Being a finish line volunteer means you’re constantly on the go but it’s extremely rewarding witnessing the joy on people’s faces when they achieve their goals” Extra Miler Jon 

Jon, who has been volunteering at R4W events for many years now, says that he loves the exhilaration and fast paced nature of volunteering at the finish line. Although it can be busy, especially when the bulk of the runners are finishing their race, it is hugely rewarding being able share the race experience with participants.  

As thousands of runners come through the finish line area, volunteers are kept busy handing out items, restocking tables and disposing of cardboard and packaging in the recycling bins. The very last runners will cross the finish line along with the Back Marker team.  These are experienced Extra Milers who support runners at the back of the race. Carolyn who is a regular back marker at R4W 10K events says she won’t ever tire of seeing runners cross the finish line and receive their well-earned medal. She loves seeing the smiling group of finish line Extra Milers in their iconic sky-blue t-shirts after 2 hours or longer tackling the route.  

While all finishers at a R4W event receive a medal, runners can choose to opt out of receiving a t-shirt. If they do so, Run 4 Wales will make a donation on their behalf to a Climate Action Fund. In 2023, this pot reached a fantastic £21,000 (also made up of donations from our charitable and corporate partners) and you can read more about the charitable groups that benefited from this money here. Runners who have opted out of a t-shirt will have an X on the t-shirt icon on their runners number (worn on their running top) instead of their t-shirt size. If you’re giving out t-shirts, remember to check for this icon!  

Still can’t decide what volunteering role you’d like to do? Sisters Claire and Alison told us they love the variety of different roles at the events. In 2023, they both achieved the Extra Miler Role Challenge, by volunteering in the four key event roles at different events. They received a tasty Welsh foods giftpack to enjoy from R4W as a diolch yn fawr present!  

We hope we’ve given you a little insight into event day volunteering at the finish line. Volunteering sign-up for Newport Marathon Festival on Sunday 28th April has now started and you can view the event dates for the rest of 2024 here.   

If you’re planning to volunteer with friends, then just make sure you sign up to the same volunteering role on the Rosterfy volunteer system to ensure you are together on event day. Groups can also sign up to volunteer – email our Volunteer Manager Tor for more information  

Finally, don’t forget to  follow our Facebook page or X (formerly Twitter) channel for all the latest event updates.  

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