Volunteer Spotlight

Tarik Noriega, August 2019

Volunteer Spotlight – Tarik Noriega

Tell us briefly about your running experience.

I am mostly a sprinter, but also enjoy the challenge of any race up to a 5K.

Are you a member of GWTC?  How long?

Yes, 13 years.

You were out at Miller Landing Madness helping set up before the sun came up last week.  How did you get involved with this race and what were your duties?  Did you run the race?

I wanted to assist Tom Perkins and Jeanne O’Kon with their race (Jeanne recruited me to join GWTC).  I set up tables, chairs, boxes, labeled boxes, handed out shirts, helped to load the Second Harvest truck, and did post-race clean-up (folded tables and chairs and put them in the trailer, picked up and recycled boxes, removed results print-outs, etc.)

I was also one of almost 200 runners in the 5K race.

What other volunteer duties have you done recently?

Helped to clean up after the Breakfast On The Track Mile.

Why do you volunteer?

To give back to Gulf Winds Track Club, a top-notch organization, and to assist Race Directors.

What is your next volunteer project?

Post-race clean-up for the Women’s Distance Festival on 9/21/19 (I will probably run the race).

We also asked Jeanne O’Kon to speak about a race director’s need for volunteers.

What were Tarik’s duties at the race Saturday?

Tarik had not been given a specific assignment at Miller Landing Madness last Saturday.  He was the best kind of volunteer.  He showed up at the crack of dawn, jumped in (without being asked) setting up tables, unloading boxes from the cars, and doing anything that needed to be done with no instructions.  He stayed at the registration tables, handed out t-shirts, and did “odd jobs” up until the time that he warmed up for the race.  After he finished the race, he came back and helped us unfold tables, carry boxes, and do a lot of cleanup in the park area. So he did not have specific duties—he just did everything that was needed!

How did he become a volunteer?

Tarik started volunteering at Summer Track with us some years ago.  I don’t remember asking him to volunteer–he just steps in.  I’m not sure how many other races Tarik helps with, but he is a huge help to me, Tom Perkins, Bill Lott, and the MLM crew.

Comments on his performance?

I have always said that it’s not enough to have untrained volunteers at a race—you have to have GWTC volunteers.  They know intuitively what has to be done and what is the right way to do it.  This describes Tarik–he’s been on the running scene for a long time and knows the exact things that need to be done.  I would say his performance is extraordinary!

What are your thoughts on how to recruit volunteers?

Every race director is challenged when it comes to recruiting volunteers.  My strategies are:

(a)   Place a notice about needing volunteers on the Facebook page for your specific race.

(b)   Place a notice about needing volunteers on the GWIND list.

(Both of these strategies result in a small number of responses.)

(c).   Keep a list of people who have volunteered with you previously and communicate directly with them through e-mail or phone calls, asking them to volunteer.

(d)   Ask your friends–GWTC is like a family, and we have many true friends in the club who are willing to help when needed.

(e)    If you know of students who need volunteer hours for school or for scholarships, ask them directly, and be willing to sign their volunteer forms.

(f)   Always thank your volunteers profusely.  If possible, give them something as a “thank you,” like a race t-shirt (after the race) or free Blaze Pizza coupons (we had a lot of those for MLM) or something small.  Always let them know they are appreciated!