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A Cut Above the Rest

There are those who do more the others: work longer, stay later, whine less, smile more, and never ask if you are done yet. Instead, they ask if there is more to do. Not only are they a race director’s dream, but the sort of personality that gives so completely of themselves, they are usually well liked by all. Many years, I have invested in directing races, and there are many people who have given their time selflessly. Some are shining stars beyond belief, but due to circumstance, can only help once and then gone to never be seen again. All of these people regardless the conditions or length of time helping, I appreciate completely for what they do. Still, there are a handful that have always been there for me, year after year, they show up every time when I call, regardless the inconvenience to themselves.

Henry Hobbs has been there from day one, and keeps on coming back. He has served is so many capacities, that he could very well take over and run any of my races for me. He fills so many roles and wears so many hats, that we have simply changed his title to: Color Commentator. He has taken the lead role in course marking to the point that I don’t even have to think about the courses that Henry’s there to manage. I put together the marking packs with staple guns, staples, mallets, wooden stakes, reflective flags, and a wide variety of signs. I hand the packs to Henry when I arrive on the Wednesday prior and he does the rest, taking care of every detail until its loaded back in my trailer at the end of the race. He also adopted the volunteer coordinator roll, collecting names, contacting volunteers, coordinating who goes where & when, that I now pretty much just forward everything related to him as is.

Ann & Weldon Glockzin are the dream team and have filled quite a few different rolls for many years. Ann told me once many years ago not to waste their time. If I couldn’t keep them busy, they would just as soon not come. So, I worked them…and worked them hard, until eventually Weldon had a tough time working and then running the race…even at the young age of 69, there are some limits. Marking course for days, then putting up tents, pounding fence posts, hauling tons of water, packet stuffing, packet pickup, and then doing it again in reverse as we shut down tends to wear a man down after running the race too. Of course Ann never slows down much either, holding down whatever job she has from start till done. And of course, I always have more for her to do, because I dare not waste her time with nothing to do.

Robert & Diana Heynen have been around from the beginning as well. There roles have morphed so much over the years, but their support has always been constant. The last few years, it has been all behind the scenes, packet stuffing, cleaning up gear after the race is over, website hosting, forum support, but one thing has remained the same… I can always count on them.

There are most certainly others…and not just a few. People who play significant roles in making a race happen, each with their own story. Without them, the race would be noticeably different, less than what it is. A few of the key players for me are Mark Licatino, Louis Upton, Olga King, John Kuss, Kyle Wilkie, Roger Davis, Paul Stone, Mariella Botella, Lynn Ballard, Chris Chandler, Troy Lischka, Liza Howard, Chris Russell, John Palmer, Tony Maldonado, Doug & Jazzy Ratliff, Dinty Moore, Miles Klaff, Brad Quinn, Jaime Garcia, Shannon Mitchell.

The idea of this thought is that it takes a village to raise a child (a group to manage a race). Joyce & I cannot do it all alone. It takes just one person to decide to throw in and really help a race and it becomes a better race directly from your involvement. I have some really good races, mostly because I have some great help. Get involved with a race! Help them to become a better race. Your help does so much more than you might realize. It is just a run, but there are a million line items of small things that need to be done. If one person does it, it is almost impossible. If two people split the chores it becomes more manageable. If three or more, then suddenly you have time to do some of those extra things that make a race more memorable. But it all begins with just one person making the time.

– Joe Prusaitis


EB: Talk Involvement

  • If you have volunteered at a trail event, while much personal energy is sent in the outgoing direction, what were your takeaways or new insights from this experience?
  • Any interesting or funny volunteer stories out there? Henry and a four wheeler is one that quickly comes to mind. Although less funny for Joe. 😉

About the author

Joe Prusaitis Joe Prusaitis ran his first trail race in 1996, a 50 miler. Since then, he has ran at least 100 ultras, nearly 50 marathons, and a variety of other odd and various distances. Joe also sits on the USAT&F South Texas board, representing Mountain/Trail/Ultra. For more information on Joe, check out the About page where you can see his coaching and race directing projects.

2 Responses to “A Cut Above the Rest”

  1. on 27 Nov 2012 at 3:19 pm Jonathan

    Joe, what you do down here in Tejas is phenomenal to say the least. Your volunteers are awesome and make the race enjoyable. Henry with the spray can at Hells Hills this year was sorely needed when I came rolling through overheated. Last year Olga took care of me after getting heat exhaustion at Mule Shoe (seeing a pattern here?). Stories of her at Cactus Rose are legendary! Seeing her at a race I instantly know I will be ok if something goes wrong. I look forward to seeing her at Bandera. Volunteering at Rocky for 13 hours was motivational and is the reason I am running it in February. I think people flock to Joe’s races because of how they are taken care of and how smoothly things are run. I never have qualms about signing up for a Tejas Trails race and I hope to run/volunteer for a long time. Thank you Joyce and Joe for what you do.

  2. on 28 Nov 2012 at 3:24 pm olga

    We just doing our part, Jonathan:) One day you do it for someone too. Joe is right – he takes care of his volunteers, they take care of his runners. It’s a circle.