So far this year, I've run five races. That's five times I've rocked up to the race village, dropped my bag off, pinned my bib to my front and set off along a marked course before stumbling back over the finish line to be rewarded with medals, t-shirts, drinks, bananas and (sometimes) beer.
According to Join In, one volunteer creates the capacity to host 8.5 runners, so (with a bit of pigeon maths) 3,918 volunteers have been involved in my running this year. With at least eight more races planned and 42 previously run, I'm looking at writing a lot of thank you letters. It turns out running isn't the solo sport it initially seems – I've had a massive team behind me all along.
"Behind every runner is a volunteer."
Jo Pavey, recognises that volunteers have played a huge part in her career, especially in the early stages. Without those generous people, she may not have become the European Champion that she is today. But, as I proved above, it's not just elite runners who benefit. Local, grassroots clubs can only continue to exist, thanks to those who offer their time and in turn, this helps the community keep including people in sport.
Last year I volunteered to marshal at the Women's Tour, just wanting to be involved in bringing women's cycling to my town but I was lucky enough to have been chosen as a rider chaperone. I got to see them finish the stage, meet some of the top riders and sit with them post-race as they waited for routine drug testing.
To learn more about the Run It campaign and volunteering, go to joininuk.org.