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Run for charity: Limited entries to the 2024 Bank of America Chicago Marathon remain through the Charity Program. Learn more and view charities with available entries.

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Characteristics of a key volunteer

Key volunteers play a critical role in the success of the event, and their enthusiasm, support and dedication make race weekend a memorable experience for every participant. Key volunteers are responsible for overseeing volunteers and/or processes in specific areas of the event, often in conjunction with a team of fellow key volunteers and event staff. Key volunteers must be comfortable communicating with and leading volunteers of all ages and abilities. They need to help organize and improve their area and they invest additional time to the event for pre-race meetings and race weekend set-up. Do you have what it takes to be a key volunteer?


Key volunteers should exemplify “TEAM LEAD” characteristics. This framework outlines our expectations for key volunteers.

TEAM: Together, we can produce far better results than we can individually.

  • Train/Teach: Clearly define goals and expectations for volunteers, contact volunteers in advance and ask for input to encourage team spirit.
  • Energize: Create a positive environment, encourage volunteers to have fun and celebrate achievements.
  • Appreciate: Regularly say “thank you” and provide positive reinforcement, build relationships so volunteers return next year and instill pride in a job well done.
  • Manage: Delegate, train and communicate clearly throughout the shift. Make sure volunteers always feel comfortably busy.

LEAD: Be prepared, proactive and responsible while empowering others.

  • Listen: Listen with compassion, seek to understand than be understood, and treat everyone with respect and dignity.
  • Excellence: Seek a world-class standard, strive to improve, go the extra mile and focus on service..
  • Adapt: Be open to and ready for change, strive for the best, but have a plan for the worst. Always remain calm.
  • Develop: Develop the talents of your volunteers and inspire them to find their potential.

If you are interested in becoming a key volunteer, please visit the key volunteer application to learn more and to apply.


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