As Team Impact grows, we are always looking for ace talent to join us and help deliver our Impact experiences. If you are thinking about joining us the first big interview is working with us as a volunteer. Here Bethany Boll shares her experiences as well as some tips from volunteers past and present…
You don’t need to be an elite runner to be involved!
While experience and interest in running is pretty important, you certainly don’t need to have a Boston Qualifying Time (for you non-runners out there, very fast!) to be a valuable member of the team. This applies to both the volunteers and the runners themselves. As a lifelong runner and member of the 10-minute-mile club, I never felt out of my depth running-wise. The Impact week is about so much more than just athletic achievement (though that is definitely part of it!): service, community, sustainable development, and leaving the world a better place... As the IMS team always says, “the run at the end of the week is a victory lap to celebrate everything we have achieved together.”
What sort of experience DO I need to volunteer with IMS?
You should be physically capable (there’s a lot of running around - both literally and figuratively!), resilient in the face of challenges, sensitive to different cultural norms, and have a keen interest in the mission of IMS to tackle the UN Global Goals through the power of running.
Generally, the right attitude is so much more important than any specific experience. IMS volunteers hail from all walks of life, covering a wide spectrum of ages, nationalities and backgrounds. Whether your interests lie in service projects, community organisation, fundraising, managing logistics (accommodation, transportation), race planning or you’re more of a “jack-of-all-trades” sort, there are plenty of jobs to ensure you’ll get exposed to all aspects. Past volunteers have found that energy, adaptability, independence and a passion for what IMS is trying to do all make for key ingredients in a successful IMS volunteer.
“I wanted to volunteer for a cause I was passionate about and was looking for a change from the corporate world and this was the perfect opportunity.” - Jamie Svensen, Kenya Muskathlon 2018
You’ll learn new things you could never have anticipated
...partially because the complexity that is organising a week-long Impact event cannot be fully planned for, partially because of utter necessity! Being flexible to whatever may be thrown at you is critical, exciting and incredibly rewarding. Language barrier? No problem. Inclement weather? Back-up plan engaged. No power in the village for a whole day? Get creative ;) Every day is genuinely a new adventure.
3 words that describe your experience volunteering with IMS: “Adventurous, exciting and memorable!”
- Jamie Svensen, Kenya Muskathlon, 2018. Photo taken during a route recce, with Mark Maughan, Abi Jones and a bemused villager showing the way.
“I think the ideal person for this role is quite hands-on, stress-proof and flexible. With these events, there always are things that don't go as planned, and as a team, you need to be able to work with that and find solutions.” - Anne Beuken, Guatemala, 2019
You won’t sleep much…
..but you will be surprised with how much the adrenalin keeps you going. Mornings usually begin with a 6am training run, followed by a full-day of activities, and the volunteers are the last ones to retire to bed when it all wraps up. Take rests when you can! Race morning, you’ll be lucky if you only have to be awake by 3am, because there’s plenty to do before the sun rises.
Staff briefing, aid station allocation and drop-off, plus final checks of the course are all hurriedly completed well before the marathon flags-off. Despite the long hours, I found the collective energy from the group contagious, and sure to keep you going throughout!
“The enthusiasm of international and local runners was incredible! Despite the obvious fatigue, everybody was incredibly thankful to all volunteers involved.” - Mirko Buzzelli, Guatemala, 2019
Learn to live outside your comfort zone
An Impact week will challenge you on many levels. IMS invites you to travel to remote, underdeveloped parts of the world where the usual comforts of home can be quite unusual. You’re also challenged to live and work with a globally diverse community of internationals, as well as the community of locals, all of whom hail from vastly different backgrounds and experiences which will inspire and move you, then challenge your assumptions and worldview.
““The moment when we were testing if the route was well indicated enough, the night before the marathon. Night was falling and besides a few farmers, there was only us two on the volcano. We were slightly worried that we wouldn't get back before it was completely dark...and then we saw lava running out of the volcano at just 300 meters away from us - very surreal! From there, our worries disappeared and we skied down the black sand, ran down some rocky paths, got a lift in a police car and finally found our team at the bottom of the hill.” - Anne Beuken, Guatemala, 2019.
No wonder they call Malawi the ‘Warm Heart of Africa’, as I was always greeted by members of the village with huge smiles and waves. I couldn’t help but keep a genuine smile on my face the entire four weeks I was there.
I learned an incredible amount from the local charity, about the importance of permaculture and its potential to create significant and lasting change in Malawi. It was incredibly inspiring to work alongside the participants and local community in working together towards this goal. – Bethany Boll, Malawi, 2019
It’s not a “one and done” kind of thing…
...in the best possible way! For runners and volunteers alike, the experience is one that both challenges and inspires and makes you want to come back for more. It’s no surprise that IMS sees a strong return rate of both participants and volunteers - one Impact week is hardly enough! In addition to picking a new challenge among the annual Impact events in Guatemala, Malawi, Kenya and Nepal (...and more to be announced soon…) you can look forward to many more opportunities to meet up with your IMS friends around the world, participate in the annual NOHTARAM and other London-area running events, or engage virtually with the global community.
Follow @impactmarathon on Facebook and Instagram to keep up with the community and see what events are coming up, and hope to see you out there! #powerofrunning #impactmarathon #malawiimpact #kenyaimpact #nepalimpact #guatemalaimpact
Sunrise at the trailhead for the Malawi course through the breathtaking African countryside.
Photo by Bethany Boll