Good morning! 🙂
Recently, I volunteered doing bag check at a pretty big race, the Dirty Girl Mud Run. There were waves of runners heading out every 15 minutes from 8 AM through 2 PM. That equals a whole lot of runners, most of whom, needed to check bags so that they would be able to change into clean clothes after the race. While I was volunteering and doing my best to make sure everyone had a positive experience, I realized there were some do’s and don’ts for choosing and packing a bag to check.
Just to clarify, as a volunteer I was responsible for taking people’s bags and putting them in the proper location by bib number, and when people came back later to collect their bag, they had to enter the tent, find their own bag, then show security their bib and the tag on their bag with matching bib number. This meant people had to find their own bags, which was an easier process for some and a little more stressful for others. So, without further ado…
- DO – Choose a brightly colored bag. Wanna know how many people own a black backpack? A BILLION. And then some. Try finding your black backpack among a sea of other black backpacks and see how calm you manage to stay! Some runners even used their kid’s Dora the Explorer backpacks. While you might feel silly, those cartoons really stand out later on when you’re hunting down your bag.
- DON’T – Select a bag with an open top. You’re much better off with a backpack or a duffel bag with a zipper, anything that you can easily shut. That way if your bag accidentally tips over, your cell phone and personal belongings won’t all spill out for everyone to see. There’s no more sure-fire way to ruin a race day than losing your phone/wallet/keys.
- DO – Wait a second and try to watch the general area where the volunteer puts your bag. It might be tempting to run off to get to the starting area, but just taking thirty seconds to get a sense of where your bag is (towards the front/back/middle, far left/right) will make it precisely 1,000.3% easier for you to find your bag later. And that’s a fact. (Sidenote: 92.7% of statistics are made up on the spot. This one wasn’t.)
- DON’T – Freak out if you can’t find your bag right away. With thousands of runners, putting a bag or two in the wrong spot can happen. Politely ask a volunteer for a little help, and you’ll have your bag in no time (even less if you followed Tip #1 and your bag is very distinct!).
- DO – Collect your own bag after, don’t send your husband/boyfriend/sister/wife/cousin to get it for you! This is just for security, even if that person says they’re related to you and are just trying to help out, the race officials don’t know that and don’t want anything to end up getting stolen, so they probably won’t give them the bag anyway! Just bring your bib and come on over to grab your bag yourself.
- And finally, DO – thank your volunteers. (I know I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating! :))