Herding Cats!

You know, there are some things that you just don’t understand until you end up in the right place at the right time.  Or is it the wrong place at the right time?

What I am talking about is all the effort that goes into an organized event.  I have been doing Runs/Walks/Stair climbs/Bike rides for over a decade.  For me its been easy.  I sign up on-line, (OK I admit my first was a mail in app from the newspaper, with a check (yep old school)) usually have my number mailed to me. I show up early, complete the event, and only then, do I put on the souvenir t-shirt.

I try to park far away, which makes getting home easier.  Yep for me its been easy….

Then I met these people


This is the Seattle Jingle Bell Run/Walk committee, and the event is Sunday…The lady second from the right, in the front row, is Jen.  She is our chief cat herder.  To use a term from my days of reading westerns, she is the ramrod of the outfit.  Everyone else is a volunteer (ok maybe not the really short people in the very front, but they are cute).  They are all ready to help, but Jen is the one calling shots!

These folks, including my wife, have been giving their own personal time, AFTER working “real jobs” all day to make sure the event goes off without a hitch.  Our run/walk is THE biggest Arthritis Jingle bell event in the nation.  Over 10,000 people all converge on downtown Seattle. 


There are costumes,


People in antlers


Serious runners, and moms with strollers.  All braving the weather.  Three years ago was a record breaking rain day, this year could be record cold.  Regardless, its an incredible way to spend a December Sunday morning.

But, back to the purpose of this post.  None of this would happen without the committee. 

There are maps drawn to indicate who goes where, and what is needed.  This is down to the number of tables needed as well as chairs.  Who needs a radio, how many.  How many “day of” volunteers do you need.  Even, who is checking IDs and where is the entrance to the “Cheer Garden”

Then there is the packet pick up.  This I will learn first hand!  Tomorrow, I will be working all day at the Team pickup location.  Pulling shirts, handing out numbers, bells (it IS the jingle bell run!) and shirts.  Then Saturday I will be working the packet pick up for everyone else.  I helped Michelle hand out 46 shirts for our team today, so I am almost trained!

Meanwhile, Jen will be running on coffee and donuts, answering emails, calling people, making decisions on the fly and doing everything needed to bring this event off.  The people in the photo (yep I am there too) are hers to command as needed.  By Sunday evening, I picture her with a glass of wine and a “Do NOT disturb! sign around her neck!

Those of us who enjoy these events owe The Jens and their minions a debt of gratitude.  Without people like this, I would not have some great memories from events over the years!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t add the donation link here.  Thank you to EVERYONE who already did!  Michelle and her team made their goal, but the run as a whole is a still a little shy of the overall goal, so feel free if you’d like!

One thing being with these folks has shown me is how hard this is.  I have ridden MANY a Cascade bike Club ride over the years.  Our courses span hundreds of miles sometimes…  I can only imagine, from what I have seen this season, what goes on there to pull those off….  I think it may be time to pony up and see what I can do to help!

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