WASHINGTON — The Marine Corps Marathon attracts thousands of runners to the D.C. area, but they aren’t the only participants. Hundreds of volunteers help the race run smoothly every year.
The Marine Corps Marathon opens registration Friday for people who want to volunteer for the Oct. 28 race and other events that weekend. The 1,800 volunteers are crucial for a successful event and showcase the spirit of the race, said Marine Corps Marathon spokeswoman Ashley Topolosky.
“This volunteer opportunity is really special because the runners are encouraged by the Marines and the volunteers, and in turn, the volunteers and Marines are inspired by the runners.”
Chris Holland, a four-year Marine Corps Marathon volunteer veteran, said he is inspired each passing year by the perseverance and accomplishments of the runners.
“The event itself is a culmination of months of training and dedication from folks, so it’s great for us to just be there and cheer them on and do our small part to try to make that day a little bit more special for them,” he said.
Holland is a manager at the Wegmans store in Woodbridge, Virginia, and leads Wegmans’ community outreach efforts in the commonwealth. Fifty Wegmans employees from around the region volunteer for the marathon together; 25 of whom pass out orange slices to runners between mile nine and 10 along the 26.2-mile course.
Wegmans donates 5,000 oranges for the station and 50,000 bottles of water for runners at the finish line.
The orange station is well-known to Marine Corps Marathon runners and doesn’t get old for Holland, year after year: “By the end of the race, the peels have been stomped and crushed by 30,000 runners, and it smells very nice at that station,” he said.
Volunteers are needed in many facets of the race. From passing out water and working food stations to assisting at the expo and helping with baggage claim, Topolosky said. The best volunteers have a positive attitude and are active participants, she added.
“Volunteers are needed everywhere — it’s a really exciting opportunity to be part of the marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon really needs as many volunteers as possible,” she said.
Volunteer registration is on the Marine Corps Marathon website. Volunteers applications are accepted until capacity is reached or until race day.
Volunteers can sign up for shifts that last anywhere between three hours and eight hours. Holland said that vivacious crowds and zealous runners help the team get through what can be long hours manning the station.
Holland also said he is looking forward to another year passing out oranges; it’s a great bonding experience with his co-workers and it’s rewarding to assist the hardworking runners.
As the grandson of a Marine, Holland said donating his time to this event, in particular, has extra meaning.
“Especially in this area, there are so many of our employees who are connected to the military, or connected to the Marines specifically, that want to be a part of the event to give back to the community and to give back to the service folks and families that are there.”
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