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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Harvest Half Marathon–Why I volunteer…

So, I first ran the Harvest Half in 2009 and decided I really liked it. I put it on my calendar for the next year. Within that year I became Barefoot Neil Z, and I started to become more involved in the Calgary race scene.


For the 2010 race, Traci and I got very involved in helping organize some of the volunteers for the race as well as helping out on race day. You can read all about that day here. All the while we were helping in real life, I was also building my social media knowledge and learning all about things like Twitter and Facebook. Since then, I have stayed in touch with the race organizers, and finally a couple months ago I asked if I could build a Facebook page for them.

The resounding answer was YES!

So I did. Now why would I get involved with this race, and not the countless others that I run? It’s because the race org team are some of the most amazing people I know. They took over this race 5 years ago as a way to honour their fallen friend/ daughter/ mother/ sister/ aunt, Tracey Flagg. Tracey was 38 years old when brain cancer took her life.


I met most of the family last year and the rest of the organizer team as well. All I can say is, what a dedicated bunch. They are not professional fundraisers, nor are they pro race organizers. Did you know that none of them even run? That’s right. They all believe so strongly in their cause that they organize this event, without the love of running that draws most of us to our passion. You can tell they care deeply, just in general, by the comments from people who run the race. It’s nothing but love at this race.

First of all, the race is run on one of the most scenic urban routes you can find anywhere. secondly, it’s on the first Saturday of October, so the weather is usually crisp, but very runner friendly. And third, the volunteer corps are friendly and helpful at every turn (no pun intended).


This race sells out every year, usually about 2 months prior to the race. Cool thing is, there are no hard rules about bib exchanges. If you can’t run, the org will transfer your bib to a person who can. This group is all about fundraising and supporting the Flagg family, while putting on a great race. They aren’t fans of doing the bib exchanges, but they will.


So. Most races have facebook pages for advertising to get entries. Well this race doesn’t need that. Why on earth would I want to administer a page then? Well, because I want to help them raise money and recruit volunteers. Like I said, they are some of the nicest people around, and it’s easy to get involved in their event.

Ok, hold on to your hats. This race, in the past 5 years, with 800ish runners per year, has raised over $440,000.00 for the Alberta Cancer Foundation.


The second reason I wanted to run the FB page was to help recruit volunteers. As a pretty active FB user already, it’s easy for me to carry on a conversation that hopefully will get people interested in the race, as well as the cause.

Lastly, I want to give a place where registered racers can come for information. I will provide timely reminders, weather reports and whatever other info the Race org would like me to pass along.

On top of all this, I have fun chatting with racers. What better way to do that than as an admin of a race FB page! Please feel free to relate your Harvest Half stories here, as well as post your photos and link your race reports…

So now, here is what you should do: First off, register for the race. Do it soon though. It has only 350 bibs left as of July 16th, 2011. Secondly, donate to the cause, thirdly, Follow us on Facebook! While this is a local race, feel free to follow anyway, even if you are from out of town. I promise to be mildly funny and somewhat engaging! And, we’ll try to give away some cool stuff away, including a bib or two to our race.

Fourthly (sp?!) VOLUNTEER!

And lastly, thank you to the sponsors! without you, we are nothing!

Richardson GMP

Tim HortonsCalgary KioskThe Tech Shop

Calgary RoadrunnersImpact MagazineCulligan

Fish Creek NissanYMCASpolumbo's Fine Foods & Deli

Grant Mortgage Solutions


RBC Dominion Securities


  1. Impressive. Some of my favorite and most meaningful race experiences I was in jeans helping others out. Good stuff:)

  2. Very very cool Neil. Congrats to you and Traci for your awesome volunteerism. Speaking of Traci, did you post the story of how you guys met? It's great.

  3. Cool, Neil. I've really enjoyed my volunteering experiences. Way to kick it up a notch AND prolong the experience.

  4. That is so wonderful of you and Traci!

  5. I love this! I love volunteering at races and if I lived closer (or when I win the million) I would absolutely volunteer for this.

  6. Awesome! Volunteering at races is so rewarding. I would love to volunteer for this race... too bad I don't live closer!