Organizing 18,000 people to run in four different directions, starting and finishing, from the same place is no small task. Thanks to a group of students from IUPUI, this task was made possible. The Indianapolis Monumental Marathon, sponsored by CNO Financial Group, took place Saturday, Nov. 3 in a course route that stretched from downtown Indianapolis to Broad Ripple’s Riverview and back.
The IUPUI Sports Management Club and students from class TCEM-E219, Management of Sports Events, represented in full force with a group of 50 plus volunteers working the day before, and day of the event to make it a success. The Sport Management Club includes a diverse background of students studying more than just Sports Management, many of whom just enjoy working in athletic competition settings, getting opportunities to meet their favorite athletes, or just mingling behind the scenes at networking events.
IUPUI students braved temperatures of 34 degrees Fahrenheit late Friday evening and early Saturday morning two hours before the start of the event to do setup for the start and finish lines. For over two city blocks, student volunteers positioned 8-foot-6-inch, more than 36 pound crowd control barricades dragging the cold steel bars chilling the hands of those who failed to bring gloves.
The street roared with the sound of metal grinding to uneven pavement, causing shrills to the ears and hand-numbing vibrations to the student volunteers who only had a few seconds break between what seemed like an endless road.
Leading the way for the volunteers on the morning of the event was Nic Lash, an executive student government representative, senator, for the Sport Management Club.
“We had our members out here working again for another year,” said Lash, “the Sport Management Club is continuing to develop a strong partnership with Beyond Monumental.”
Beyond Monumental is an Indianapolis based 501(3) organization with mission to educate on the benefits of exercise, proper diet, and healthy living. You can find out more about their events and programs at https://beyondmonumental.org/about/.
After an hour of placing the barriers, the IUPUI student volunteers grabbed signs to indicate entrance points between the barriers for participants to take to the course. Participants trickled into the streets from side roads and alleyways in a befuddled manner and eagerly raised eyebrows signifying their desire for some guidance and direction.
Nic Lash brought the group together to aide and demonstrate with one such participant how to identify their running group, and where they could lineup.
“Year by year we are able to take on more responsibility and gain valuable experience so that we are doing more than just the regular volunteer work. It’s great to get the recognition from members in the community,” Lash said.
The team of volunteers dispersed to their checkpoints with pennant string flags in groups of four spanning the road to divide five running groups. The IUPUI students walked and directed participants to their group locations prior to beginning the race. More importantly, IUPUI’s representatives could be seen positively interacting with visitors giving high-fives to enthusiastic participants who endlessly thanked them for their services.
Sophomore Liz Weaver, an accounting and finance major at IUPUI, participated in her first sport management club volunteer experience at this event.
“I like the atmosphere of seeing all these people get excited about a marathon they’re about to run,” Liz said. “It’s a cool experience.”
Retired military veteran Jeffrey Capps, one of the runners who frequently visits Indianapolis as a sport tourist , expressed his appreciation to the IUPUI volunteers as a visitor from Decatur, Illinois. Mr. Capps was presently surprised when his brother and law and sister trekked downtown from within the state to show their support during his attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
“I have been here for the mini-marathons a couple of times,” Capps said. “But this is my first full monumental marathon.”
After the race started and all the runners cleared the start line, clean up immediately began. Volunteers piled over 100 two foot mounds of clothes into the back of a moving van for collected clothing donations to be sent off to Goodwill. Work did not stop there. The group proceeded to realign the crowd control barriers so that runners from the half marathon race and the full marathon race would be properly directed in the right direction.
“Once we got the race started, everyone was jazzed up getting the chance to see the entire process unfold and how the work performed the previous night paid off,” Lash said.
At the conclusion of volunteer work after four hours, Lash shared his thoughts on the success of all the volunteers accomplishments stating, “I think the event was a success, it really is rewarding.”
IUPUI students benefit from their experiences in the sport industry whether it is, “Partnering with organizations such as the Pacers and being able to attend networking events, working with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and even far beyond that as we work to continue to get funding through our efforts.”
The CNO Financial Group Indianapolis Monumental Marathon helped to raise over $1 million toward local public education. Students can get involved with the IUPUI Sport Management Club, and the opportunity to participate at events alongside sport industry professionals and network at https://theden.iupui.edu/organization/smc_iupui or email firstname.lastname@example.org.