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2011 NYC Marathon – From a Volunteer’s Point of View
UPS package cars

You might have read there was a race on November 6 up in New York City. Gathered a lot of media attention. Some guy ran 26.2 miles in just over two hours. Along with about 47,000 of his closest friends. Pretty impressive.

What you may not know is some 300 UPS volunteers managed to move 46,795 bags of personal gear—sweats, shirts, hats, keys, cell phones—from the start of the race on Staten Island all the way to Central Park on race day. All in the span of a few hours.

The runners get the glory, and they deserve it, but here’s to the UPSers who gave up their weekends to pull off their own remarkable feat.

Saturday, November 5, 8 a.m. Pre-race Day

Volunteers are out in force to move delivery trucks through the streets of Manhattan to Staten Island. UPS employees; husbands and wives, sons and daughters, all make this possible. It really is a family affair.

I ride with Antonio from New Jerseyon the lead vehicle in the Big Brown Truck Parade through the city. He’s been here all 15 years of UPS’s involvement, happy to come back every year.

On Staten Island, it’s all about staging. We have 74 trucks scattered across three areas. Each is numbered for easy identification and will carry the personal belongings for up to 1,000 runners to the finish line in Central Park on Sunday.

Sunday, November 6, 4 a.m. Race Day

The first of the volunteers arrive at in Manhattan. Buses will take us toStaten Island beginning at 5:30. Bagels and coffee are set up on tables. You can feel the excitement in the air; and the day is just beginning.

Sunday, 6:30 a.m.

At the staging area on Staten Island, Industrial Engineer Niall Kelleher is the go-to person for any and everything UPS-related at this event. He’s been doing this for nine years.

Each area accommodates 16,000 runners, who trust their personal belongings, neatly bagged, to a UPS volunteer who will then load the bags into a truck to be picked up at the end of the race. Trust is the key here; cell phones, car keys, warm-ups all go in the bags.

If you’re not wearing running gear, you become, by default, someone who knows what’s going on. People of all nationalities are asking you questions. Somehow we manage to communicate and get them to the right place.

Sunday, 10 a.m.

Trucks are sealed and we’re ready to go back through the streets of New York and into Central Park. Now 74 delivery trucks strong, with police escort, it’s quite a sight. Do we stop for traffic lights? Fuhgetaboutit!

By the time we arrive at Central Park, the winners are already in. The rest will finish throughout the day, hours after we are set up and ready with their gear.

No one appreciates this effort more than the runners. We greet them with smiles and congratulations, hand them their gear, and send them on their way. We’ll do this 47,000 times today.

Exhausted, barely able to stand, but they still have the energy to say, “Thanks.”

Some go further. “You guys are rock stars,” one says; another, “Thank God for UPS.”

Sunday, 3 p.m.

A mass of runners works its way through the gauntlet of Central Park. Tens of thousands trudge past the line of trucks, looking for the vehicle that carries their goods. Amazingly, they all walk away, bags in hand, out of the park.

Sunday, 5 p.m.

It’s getting dark and the runners are still coming in. It’ll be hours before the last UPS volunteers pack up to leave. Tired, we make the trip back toManhattanwhere we’ll pack up our gear, say our good-byes, and go home to rest for the few hours left in our weekends.

We love logistics. Every mile of the way.

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Category: Caring for Communities, Logistics
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    Comments [7]

  1. What a great story and heroic effort on behalf of UPS volunteers (UPS employees and family as well)! I certainly didn’t know UPS was supporting this effort. As a runner, it is good to know. Thank you UPS!

    • Thanks for the comment. Maybe we’ll see you in New York next year.

  2. Love it! Who knew? Kudos to all the volunteers and their families for the long hours and dedicated service, they made this a great experience for all those thousands of runners!

    • We’re all very proud of the many UPS volunteers who assist with this event every year. Thanks for the comment.

    • Unparalleled accuracy, unuqeivcoal clarity, and undeniable importance!

  3. Good corporate citizenship!

    • Thanks for the kind words. We’re proud to be part of this and the many other events UPS sponsors throughout the year.

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