Volunteers have signed up in record numbers for this year’s A2A, and race director Alison Smalley said many of those dedicated individuals are already involved in the multitude of pre-race day jobs that add to the uniqueness of the Arbuckles to Ardmore Race For Mercy.

Smalley described the hundreds of volunteers needed to ensure the A2A retains its status as an event not to be missed as “...a symphony orchestra of people giving of themselves to make the A2A a success for both the runners and the town of Ardmore. It’s a wonderful thing to behold and be a part of.”

While the A2A has the reputation of being a rare and wonderful experience for runners, Smalley said the volunteer effort it takes to put on such an event doesn’t carry the same razzle-dazzle.

Take the trash detail, for example.

“The A2A has attracted runners from across the United States, and organizers feel it is important that runners return home with the most favorable impression of southern Oklahoma possible,” Smalley said.

“The trash pick up committee is probably the most unglamorous committee and the one hardest to recruit volunteers for. However, this year we have been blessed with some great first-time volunteers from Noble Foundation, thanks to Noble’s new community service program. Also, a large group of students and teachers from Springer Schools will work as a group to clean several miles, including the town of Springer. They will assist a small group who have been faithfully cleaning up and down U.S. Highway 77 every year from the Turner Falls overlook to the Ardmore city limits.”

Since its inception, the A2A has featured a marathon, half-marathon and 5K (Robbie’s Race). This year, there’s a new event: the Kids Marathon. But youngsters don’t just have the opportunity to compete in their own race. They’re also part of the volunteer group, including a new set of young volunteers.

“This year, for the first time, we have school-age kids from the Brass Ring Performing Arts School assisting with the packet assembly. They will work alongside ‘senior’ volunteers from groups such as the Mercy Auxiliary who have graciously helped every year since year one of the race,” Smalley said.

While there are scores of volunteers involved in pre-race jobs, legions more will join the effort one week from today — race day.

“Other volunteers will start very early on race day staging the stadium and registering runners as they arrive to board school buses for the trip to the Arbuckle Mountains. Ardmore School System bus drivers transport runners to the marathon and half-marathon start lines, and the buses remain with the runners until start time to provide warmth and shelter for the runners. As the runners clock their miles toward Ardmore, they are greeted by literally hundreds of volunteers from churches, civic clubs, office groups and individuals at aid stations giving out water and Gatorade. Not only do they need the life-saving fluids these aid stations provide, because the marathon and half marathon routes travel mainly through quiet countryside, these volunteers provide spirit, encouragement, music and excitement to keep the runner from being lonely,” Smalley said.

In total, it takes volunteers fulfilling duties and roles in 16 different venues. (See list of volunteer groups)

“None of the duties are glamorous and all are very hard work, but all are fun because of the camaraderie and the satisfaction of knowing you are helping a worthy cause in your own hometown,” Smalley said.

There is still time to volunteer. Register online at www.a2amarathon.com, click on Volunteers at the top of the screen and sign up.