Every year, like ants preparing for the cold winter months, New Balance Reach the Beach Relay - RTB - volunteers begin hustling, bustling, and storing up sleep hours before setting off on this yearly adventure. With title sponsor New Balance in the mix, New Balance RTB has been able to explode onto the 200 mile relay running scene with some serious firepower to the 13 year old annual New Hampshire tradition.
But then there are the not so unsung hero's who are recognized as the back bone of this race by nearly all who participate and are held aloft within their own ranks. I'm of course referring to the aforementioned volunteers. Why are they not unsung? The volunteers that sacrifice their time and energy to ensure a smoothly operating event are at the forefront of every turn, literally, are praised by New Balance RTB staff and runners from the moment they begin to the last second they're on the clock. Starting at the top, Race directors Rich Mazzola and Mike Dionne forge lasting relationships that imbue volunteer organizations with a sense of pride in their massive accomplishments over the course of 4 days. That's right...some people start volunteering on the Wednesday before race day. Some volunteers show up to cook meals for race staff, some to unpack the merch tent, some pack race packets with hundreds of timing chips, while others staple banners to the walls of Cannon Mountains facade.
Spread across 200 miles of rural New Hampshire, hundreds of people turn out, some in costumes; selling cookies, hot breakfasts, showers all in support of their fire departments, local education facilities, girl scout troops, City Year programs, and even local running clubs! Organization, safety, and fun are the names of the game here. New Balance RTB commits itself to these core values by over-communicating them during several volunteer training sessions leading up to the big day. Volunteer coordinator, Carol Rainville, works especially hard at making sure every volunteer feels as if they're personally making a difference. They respond by working hard at every turn, getting their hands filthy with garbage, standing on the shoulder of the road for hours directing traffic while wearing a Mario costume, and getting personal with some of the teams in an effort to make lasting connections while teams wait for their runners to arrive. This year, like years past, New Balance RTB exceeded expectations; as volunteers, runners, and the communities of New England, came out in support of the annual celebration of endurance and ability to sleep in a smelly van.