“We Jump and Scream Like We’re Serving Royalty”: Why Volunteer Celeste Pouncy Loves the TCS New York City Marathon
I became involved in the running world in my 40s as a member of Black Girls Run (BGR). I was never interested in running, but once I became a member of this group, I was introduced to a whole new world. I always thought that marathons were for people who ran fast and long. But boy, was I mistaken.
I soon found out that runners come in all sizes, shapes, ages, and even include walkers. Since that time, I have completed several 5Ks, 10Ks, and even two half-marathons. I am not fast; I mostly walked all the races I have completed—but I had fun.
Being a part of the running world gave me an excitement that I never knew. I have since slowed down my running and entering races. I now combine running with my other passion—travel. I have visited several countries to complete races. My friends and family call me crazy; I just smile. But since I am not entering races as often as in the past, I began to look for opportunities to stay connected to the running world.
In 2014, Black Girls Run was looking for volunteers to work at mile 16 of the TCS New York City Marathon. I volunteered and was joined by over 50 other ladies. This was the most rewarding experience I have had. The runners were friendly, and so many thanked us for volunteering. When a runner took water from us, we jumped and screamed as if we were serving royalty.
I recall there was one passerby who stopped to watch the race. She didn’t know what was happening. When I told her it was the New York City Marathon, she began to tell me how she and her sister had talked about running the race one day. She began to cry, as she explained that her sister died the previous year. I consoled her and encouraged her to follow those dreams. She began to smile and stated how glad she was to have met me. Here I was thinking I was there for the runners, not knowing how I could touch a non-runner’s life. At that moment, I knew I wanted to be a part of this fascinating world and continue to help others.
As a volunteer, I have opportunities to stay connected to a sport that I enjoy. It is fun, exciting, and most of all, rewarding. I have met so many people who I would have probably never met had it not been for New York Road Runners. It is exciting to meet runners and hear how far they have traveled for races. At the 2016 marathon, I met a fellow volunteer who had traveled from Europe to support a friend who was running.
Volunteering allows me to help others, whether they are runners, friends or family members of runners, spectators, or passersby. Nothing warms my heart as much as having a runner shout, “Thanks for volunteering!” as they sprint by or stop at a fluid station for water or Gatorade.
Inspired by Celeste's story and want to volunteer at the 2017 TCS New York City Marathon? Sign up by August 31!