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Early in the morning on 17th April this year, thousands of runners limbered up for The Flora London Marathon.
At the same time thousands of volunteers like Katie McNeill, from Clapham in South London, prepared to spend the day helping the runners and spectators enjoy a world-class event.
Katie works for Unilever, maker of Flora – the title sponsor. She joined many of her colleagues in taking part in the marathon, either as volunteers or runners. Like them she wanted to be part of the event that has captured the imagination of the nation, and raises hundreds of thousands of pounds for charity each year.
What did she do?
It was an early start. The volunteers arrive at the course before the runners to ensure everything is ready for over 33,000 competitors and thousands of supporters. Over 6,000 volunteers help make the event a success. The volunteers fulfil a huge variety of roles from erecting fencing to handing out water to providing first aid.
Crowds line the 26.2 mile course in central London to cheer on participants, and their good will and encouragement is hugely appreciated by the elite runners and wheelchair athletes, and the fun runners. The claps and cheers help runners find that extra something needed to complete a marathon.
Katie and her colleagues volunteered to help keep the crowds entertained by handing out ‘thunderstick’ rattles which add to the excitement of the event, and the crowd’s enjoyment of the day.
A regular gym goer, and TV sports fan, this was the first time Katie had volunteered at the marathon and it has had a big impact on her.
“The atmosphere at the Flora London Marathon is electric and I’d recommend volunteering to everyone!” She says. “It was great fun being with the crowds and seeing how their cheers keep the runners feeling upbeat. Taking part as a volunteer, and seeing achievement of the runners, has really inspired me – though I would need to do lots of training!”
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