I did this NYRR volunteer gig last year and the reward for volunteering (and finishing 9 additional NYRR races) is that I'll be toeing the line on the Verrazano Bridge looking up at 26.2 miles on November 1, 2009. This will be my first full marathon and knowing my personality, I realized that I most likely will find at least one (perhaps, yes only perhaps, more than one) area that needs improvement so I'm doing the whole cycle again to guarantee entry into the 2010 version of the race. I've done 6 of the 9 races already and the "job" I've volunteered for doesn't seem that hard. Yes, there is a race entry lottery but I have no confidence that I'll get in that way - I'm 0 for 1 so far in that lottery.My "job" will be as a course marshal. That means Dawn and I will stand out on the course, cheer on the runners while encouraging them to "stay to the right" (or left based on which direction around Central Park the race goes). I'm no rookie at this since this is the same job I did in my NYRR volunteer stint last year.
I will volunteer at another race this year with no strings attached. I try to do that in at least one local event per year anyway. I also get my girls to help out so they learn that these races don't happen without help, especially ones with low entry fees that donate any proceeds to charities we believe in. That, I think, is true athletic philanthropy.
This event comes close but I feel the obligation attached with the guarantee take a little away.