After a few days to let the dust settle (and my voice return) I wanted to reflect on my experience as a volunteer at Battle Cancer London…
“It was bloody hard work, but so glad I did it!”
A summary like that could have easily come from someone competing, but I think it’s justified to come from someone helping to make the day run smoothly too.
Whilst I’ve helped at a couple of smaller events previously, this is first time I’ve volunteered at an event of this size. This year’s Battle Cancer London had over 1300 athletes competing – consisting of teams of four (males, females & mixed) competing across two concurrent competition floors, each with six heats for each workout! It gave me a new appreciation for not only the obvious planning done by the core event team on the run up to the event, but also the magnitude of the effort to make the day run smoothly once the venue doors are open and the athletes are throwing down.
Battle Cancer supports a cause close to my heart (see below), but I was also keen to contribute to a fitness community that I believe brings much fulfilment to many people, including myself. Some are natural competitors, giving it their all with a focus on securing the highest possible place on the leaderboard, whilst others are just taking part for the enjoyment of doing some adult P.E. with their mates. I’m sure there are also some who may see stepping on the competition floor for the first time as a significant milestone and potentially with lots of nerves & doubt as to whether “they’re ready”.
As volunteers, I think we have an important role to play; not only do we help the event to run smoothly but we should also provide a support to all those competing (or simply attending the event). I spent the day on Athlete Control, wrangling the competitors into their holding lanes before sending them out on to the competition floor. I’m sure there were many who thought my enthusiasm & shouting was intrusive, if not unnecessary – however timing would have quickly unravelled without it! I also hope there were at least some that appreciated the occasional high-five, motivational comment or simple smile as they headed out to give it their all on the competition floor.
I’ve also previously discussed (in Battle Cancer London – reflecting on 2018) why, despite not personally being a big competitor, I’m drawn to the Battle Cancer movement because of close connection with cause behind it and the charities it supports. Returning this year was part of my process of dealing with the impact cancer has had on my life and the people I care about. The event kicked-off with an special video message that I’m sure tugged on many heart-strings, including my own; it was important to spend a few moments remembering why we were all there. I also managed to speak to the guys from MacMillan about the amazing support they’d provided my Mum during her treatment.
With such charity and shared cause at the centre of Battle Cancer, the atmosphere remained inclusive & friendly throughout, with few placing competition glory at the top of their agenda. Despite being a long exhausting & sometimes emotional day, I’ve every confidence this Battle Cancer event wont be my last!
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