Meet Jim M.

What was your first CARA volunteer experience?

I started running with CARA in 2005 as a trainee/participant. After a few years, I became a volunteer pace group leader for the marathon training group in Darien. I have also volunteered for CARA’s beginning runner program that met at Lululemon in Oak Brook. In one of those programs, I enjoyed seeing one of the “graduates” continue running, join the CARA marathon training group, and successfully finish several marathons. I also volunteered as a pace leader/sweeper for several of CARA’s Six Series programs, making sure the last runner did not get lost in the city. I have also volunteered at numerous races, including at start line operations at the Chicago Marathon since 2008.

How long have you been in your current volunteer role?

I have been the Site Coordinator for CARA’s Darien Marathon Training Program for 8 years.

What is the best part of your role?

By far, the best experience is to see the progress, and ultimate success of the runners. Running a marathon is a very daunting prospect to a new runner. At the beginning, through the brashness and bravado, at least a hint of doubt and fear is usually present. Marathon training is a long process and has its ups and downs. It is very satisfying to guide the runners through the training program, prepare runners how to get through the rough patches during training and during the marathon, and make it fun all along the way. Also satisfying is getting to know the runners, learning the obstacles they have overcome, and seeing the profound life-affirming effect that running has on us.

What would you tell individuals considering volunteering for CARA?

That the volunteers get the most out of the program, even more than the runners. You will be dealing with motivated, determined people, who just need a little organization and help to succeed. I’ve heard that the greatest pleasures come to those who help others without expectation of pay or reward. And with my volunteer role at CARA, I found this to be true.