At VolunteerLocal, we are always impressed by the outstanding endurance events and races put on by organizations across the country.
Today, we interviewed Beth Salinger – the Race Director and owner of Fort2Base. It was a pleasure
learning from Beth the true impact volunteers have on the annual Fort2Base race in Illinois.
How did Fort2Base originally get started? How old is the race now?
2019 will be the 9th annual run.
I grew up near Fort Sheridan, which is where the 10NM (Nautical Mile) starts, and I knew there was another base just north of it. I thought it would be fun to run between the two.
When we originally pitched the idea to the base, they asked us to finish on base to help them celebrate their 100th anniversary. The first Fort2Base run was on 9-11-2011, the 10th anniversary of 9-11. It was a fun and sobering day.
How long does it take to prepare for your event in August?
We prepare year-round for the event and start recruiting volunteers about 2 months prior.
In preparation, we work on the course, marketing, and speaking with the various cities we run through. And the fun part – designing participant giveaways!
We communicate with our volunteers and participants year-round, especially at Thanksgiving and New Year’s. We always want them to know we appreciate them and are thinking of them.
What are some of the roles your volunteers have within Fort2Base?
We use volunteers in every aspect of the event – from course marshals, helping with packet pick up, water stations, medical volunteers, and pacers. Volunteers also help throughout the year, to assist at expos and spreading the word!
Could you tell us a bit about your Event Ambassadors?
We have about 20 ambassadors who help us throughout the year. They help us get the word out about Fort2Base.
We do a lot with social media and look for ambassadors with a strong social presence. We also go to a lot of expos, so the ambassadors help us there as well. Some ambassadors are really involved in local running clubs, so they organize fun runs and pass along extra discounts and swag.
Anything we can do to encourage people to sign up. Generally once they run, they really enjoy the experience!
How would you describe the energy at your races?
It is amazing. On the final stretch, we have military volunteers cheering on the runners. Military personnel hand out our medals, and about 30% of our registrations are military. It is a very patriotic feel!
Final thoughts about the event and the volunteers that help make it happen?
Many of our volunteers are young sailors – they recently left home for the first time and are in school at Naval Station Great Lakes. To see their sense of pride, wearing their Navy gear and supporting other military personnel is really special. Our last two water stations are often all military, and our course marshals are all military.
A few years ago we had a gentleman walking the 10NM and was the last participant by far. The kids were cheering him on, but then as he passed them, they got in formation behind him to support him. By the time he crossed, both water stations and all the course marshals had filed in behind him and were chanting. When he finished, we found out he was a retired Navy Chief, which made it even more special – there was not a dry eye in the house.
Truly, volunteers can change the entire look and feel of your event!