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A Day in the Life of a Volunteer at the Boston Marathon

Athletic trainer Kati Holmes shares her experience volunteering at the Boston Marathon.

Kati Holmes, Boston Marathon

Growing up in New England, I remember celebrating Patriot’s Day, which is also nicknamed ‘Marathon Monday.’ Kids are off from school, the Boston Red Sox baseball team plays at home, and the streets are flooded with people cheering on those running in the Boston Marathon. This is a tradition near to my heart that I always enjoy being part of.

Traditionally, the Boston Marathon is run on the third Monday in April. But this year was different due to the pandemic, so the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) ended up holding the 125th Boston Marathon on Monday, Oct. 11.

Leading up to that day, there is a selection process for medical and nonmedical volunteers to work on Marathon Monday. The selection process is based upon years of service and positions the organization needs filled. I was fortunate to have been chosen as a medical volunteer.

It was an honor to be selected by the Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) to help provide medical coverage at the finish line and in the medical tents at the 125th Boston Marathon.

Marathon Monday started with a 3:30 a.m. wake-up call in Deerfield, Mass. I hit the road for a two-hour adventure to Boston. As I got closer to Hopkinton on the Mass Pike, I saw the convoy of buses and service trucks getting the course cleared and ready for the marathon. That was just the beginning of the exciting day ahead.

At 7 a.m., I got my credentials and clearances while checking in. This year, I had to provide proof that I had received the COVID-19 vaccine to work as a volunteer. After getting my jacket, hat and ID, I met with the group I was teamed up with for the day.

Since I was working at the finish line and in medical tents, masks also were required. Each tent was set up with cots for the runners to use in case of an injury or exhaustion. Boylston Street was lined with medical volunteers with wheelchairs to help the runners if they needed assistance. 

Katie Holmes at the Boston Marathon

Stationed at the finish line, I was eager to help. By the time 9 a.m. rolled around, the first athlete crossed the finish line. From then on, we had a steady flow of runners needing attention, anything from a high-five or cheer to cramps and dehydration.

My role as an athletic trainer at the marathon was to provide care within my practice scope and work as a team with doctors, nurses and physical therapists. Sometimes that meant getting snacks for an ill runner or holding the chair for the doctor to hang up an IV. Whatever the need, we worked together to provide the best care and support for the marathon participants.

By 5:30 p.m., the course had 300 runners remaining, so we started breaking down our setup and consolidating things into one medical tent. I finished off another great year of volunteering by going to a Boston Red Sox game with friends after the race was over.

Anytime I get to return home to New England is special, but when I get to go home and celebrate Marathon Monday, it’s even better. No matter your volunteer location on Marathon Monday, it’s a special event that is a privilege to be part of.

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