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Wellness, fitness & personal growth


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Volunteering at Races: How to Get Involved and Support Runners

Medals at Women Rock 10K. Saint Paul, 2015.

Women Rock 10K Medals. Saint Paul, MN. 2015. Photo Credit: Tali Levin

Volunteers are awesome!

I had competed in half-marathons in years past, but it wasn’t until my first marathon last year that I became truly aware and thankful of everyone who helped me reach the finish line successfully. Since then, I’ve volunteered at five race events in the Twin Cities with three different organizations, and it’s been an absolutely amazing way to grow!

Why Volunteer for Races?

Every runner has a reason for participating in a race. For some, this is their first race, others compete for a personal record time, some do it just for fun, or they may run with a special someone in their thoughts. Of course, there is an endless number of other reasons!

Runners’ goals and aspirations depend on the organization’s staff and volunteers to make race day happen. Without volunteers, there is no race.

With Whom Can I Volunteer?

The Twin Cities hosts three main organizations that orchestrate year-round race series:

  • Twin Cities in Motion
    • Organizes Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon and the Red, White & Boom! Half Marathon, among others.
  • Minnesota Running Series
    • Plans Goldy’s Run, Lake Minnetonka Half Marathon and Turkey Trot, among others.
  • Team Ortho
    • Known for the Get Lucky Half Marathon, Minneapolis Marathon and Monster Dash, among others.

There are many other running race organizations all over the country.

Who Volunteers?

People of all ages and backgrounds, runners and non-runners, groups and individuals.

What Are the Perks of Volunteering?

As a volunteer, you can expect to receive:

  • A volunteer shirt or apparel from the organization.
  • Snacks or refreshments (depending on organization and weather).
  • “Bones” per hour of service (Team Ortho Only): Bones act as points that may be redeemed for race entries or apparel.
  • Some leftover food at the end of the race.
  • Plenty of smiles and “Thank You”s from grateful runners and staff!

What Are Typical Volunteer Tasks?

When signing up online, you choose where you want to help and the type of responsibilities you may have:

  • Before Race Day – Prepare race packets; set-up, facilitate and take-down Expo and/or packet pick-up
  • Start Line – Set-up, bag drop, direct runners, take-down.
  • Out on the Course – Be a course marshall (enforce course and direct runners), prepare and hand out water/sports drinks at fluid stops, pass out gels (marathons only).
  • Finish Line – Set-up, prepare and pass out medals, direct runners, hand out food and drinks, give wet towels or Mylar blankets (marathons only), bag pick-up, take-down.
  • Post-Race Party – Set-up, assist in tents and activities, take-down.

How Do I Get Started?

  1. Find a race or organization.
    • Volunteering in the Twin Cities or Minnesota:
      • Follow the links for the organizations listed above and find the Volunteering tabs.
    • Volunteering in other cities:
      • Find the websites to local races you know in your area, or search in Google “(Your State) Marathon” or “(Your City) Running Races”.
    •  Use the Runner’s World Race Finder tool.
  2. Check out the volunteering opportunities for the event.
  3. Sign up and attend individually, with a friend or group!


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Best Urban Trails in Minneapolis and St. Paul

Summertime is great for exploring the outdoors! The Twin Cities are well known for their beautiful urban landscape, with an abundance of vitalizing parks, trails and bodies of water.

Here is my selection of the Best Trails in Minneapolis and St. Paul for every mood. If you are looking to be by…

The Lakes

  • Check out the Chain of Lakes. Among the lakes, Lake Calhoun is the biggest (and seemingly with the highest number of active people) in Minneapolis. Looking for something calmer? Explore Lake Harriet–family friendly, with shade under trees and lake views throughout. Rest by the Lake Harriet Bandshell for food, and free movies and music in the summer.

    Chain of Lakes

    Chain of Lakes

The Mississippi River

  • Go see West River Parkway (Minneapolis side)–beautiful stretches between Broadway St. and Plymouth Ave., and south of Lake St. to Minnehaha Falls Park.

    West River Parkway

    West River Parkway

  • Try Mississippi River Boulevard (St. Paul side). Enjoy scenic views of the river between Franklin Ave. and Summit Ave. Be sure to stop at the landscaped rest area where Summit Ave. meets the Boulevard for amazing panoramic views, a historic monument and hidden dirt trail and waterfalls down by the river.

    Mississippi River Boulevard

    Mississippi River Boulevard

A Residential Area

  • Go for a stroll on St. Anthony Parkway in Northeast Minneapolis. Suburban feel in an urban landscape. Winding off-road trail and sidewalk, plenty of green to catch your eye and quiet neighborhood. Make a stop at Deming Heights Park to reach the highest elevation in Minneapolis. (The St. Anthony Parkway bridge on the west end of the Parkway will be under construction from Aug. 2015 to summer of 2017; plan for an alternative connecting route if coming from the west.)

    St. Anthony Parkway

    St. Anthony Parkway

Minnehaha Creek

  • Run on the Minnehaha Parkway trails. A hidden urban escape with fluid, gentle water sounds. The tree canopy makes it easy to forget you are in the middle of the city. Great connecting route between Lake Harriet, Lake Nokomis and Minnehaha Falls.

    Minnehaha Parkway

    Minnehaha Parkway

Open Prairie Fields

  • Ride on the Cedar Lake Trail. Parts of the trail accommodate pedestrians and cyclists with three separate parallel lanes, including one-way bike lanes in each direction. Fast commute. with ample sun and open space. Bring your own water supply in the summer; there are only a few water sources available. Connect with the Kenilworth Trail for a tree- and shade-filled oasis that leads to the Chain of Lakes.
Cedar Lake Trail

Cedar Lake Trail

Kenilworth Trail

Kenilworth Trail

The Middle of the City

  • Go on the Midtown Greenway. Although not very scenic, it gets you where you need to go. With many street exits in the middle of Minneapolis, the Greenway starts at W. River Pkwy., stretches past Lake Calhoun and merges with the Cedar Lake Trail.

    Midtown Greenway

    Midtown Greenway