As a full-time stay-at-home mum to three children, there isn’t much Hayley Cuttle has time for during the day, but that doesn’t stop her from combining her love of running and volunteering.
“I love running. That’s my exercise and time to myself,” she says.
A few years ago, a friend pointed her in the direction of the Stromlo Running Festival (SRF). The region’s largest trail-running event is held annually at Stromlo Forest Park, taking in parts of the National Arboretum Canberra on its ultra-marathon course.
The event provides an opportunity for runners of all abilities to enter distances of 10 km, 30 km, and 50 km that enjoy sweeping views of the Canberra region and Brindabella ranges.
The most attractive part for Hayley is that she could run and volunteer, and on the weekend too. She signed up to be a volunteer in 2020 and will be back for their event next month.
“I thought I would give it a go, and I loved it.”
The 12th Stromlo Running Festival on 5 to 6 March is already sold out, but there is still plenty of room for volunteers as event organisers turn their attention to coordinating the all-important volunteer roster.
After last year’s event was postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions, it was announced 2022 would feature two events. The second will be held in November.
Race director Mel Bingley says SRF wouldn’t be possible without the support and enthusiasm of volunteers, or as they call them, ‘vollies’.
“They’re the absolute heart and soul of the event and one of the most frequently praised aspects of the festival each year,” Mel says.
Over two days, SRF will welcome 2300 eager runners from beginner to seasoned professional to the trails of Stromlo Forest Park and the National Arboretum Canberra for the three course distances.
Behind the scenes, the small army of volunteers will be setting up, packing down, attending the aid station, timing the runners and more.
“What’s evident when you see these vollies in action is their passion for supporting the trail running community have their best race possible,” Mel says.
“This can be in the form of encouragement, information, direction and the most important thing – a smile.”
Hayley says volunteering at SRF opened her eyes to “the joy of giving back”.
“I love being able to greet the runners, give them their t-shirt, share a joke and hopefully calm any nerves they have before running the race,” she says.
“The thanks, the smiles, the waves make it all worth it. Seeing people out for a run and enjoying it, I’d recommend everyone give volunteering a go – it’s so rewarding.”
The time out on the track has also morphed into valuable family time, away from screens and in the great outdoors together.
“It’s prompted my two older children to come with me on a Saturday morning for the 5 km free event,” Hayley says.
“They love it. It’s nice to teach the young ones the importance of volunteering.”
Hayley says there is a job for anyone who wants to get involved.
“You don’t have to be a runner to volunteer. Some people go just to volunteer, whether it’s an injury or medical condition that prevents you from running.”
Visit Stromlo Running Festival to sign up to become a volunteer. All volunteers receive a custom 2XU team shirt.