Helping Hands

Volunteering at local races

Clouds thickened and rain fell hard on the Rut 50k running course, pelting 11,000-foot Lone Peak and the mid-mountain aid station. Volunteers huddled under tents as they laid out food and water, chatted with new friends, and excitedly anticipated runners coming around the bend. Suddenly, the first batch of mountain climbers slipped and slid around the trees, over the rocks, and over to the tent. Muddy, bloody, but grinning ear to ear, the runners brought a palpable excitement to the windswept aid station. Volunteers laughed, cheered, and jumped in to help, inspired by the contagious energy. Despite the blood, sweat, and tears shed by these runners, they stayed upbeat and positive as they scrambled through one of the toughest races in the country, and volunteers had front-row seats to the show.

In addition to being thrown into the action as a volunteer, participating in a race without having to compete can provide a sense of accomplishment and pride in its own way. Volunteers are relied on so heavily that most races wouldn’t happen without them. Racers rely on volunteers to help fill water bottles, change bike tires, fix broken backpacks, and offer up much-needed words of encouragement during difficult times. But don’t be intimidated—all levels of expertise and experience can be used in a race. Sign up for something low-profile like setting up tables or retrieving discarded water cups, or get right into the mix by flagging a course or handing out mid-race snacks.

There are plenty of local races in need of volunteers for the upcoming season. Lend a helping hand and prepare to get hooked by the contagious energy of racing. Race volunteering is truly a unique experience. Seeing people at their most vulnerable and then being able to help them accomplish a big—and sometimes life-long—goal is incredibly rewarding.

Upcoming volunteer options:

Haven Mother’s Day 5K: May 11 in Bozeman. Contact Erica Coyle at 586-7689.

Bangtail Divide 38K: July 5 near Bridger Bowl. Contact Adam Behrendt at 587-1135.

Spring Meadow Triathlon: July 6 in Helena. Contact Carolyn at [email protected].

Find more races at,, or call Bozeman Running Company for info on how to get involved. Don’t forget to check the outdoor calendar on for updates on upcoming races.