No one ever wants to be last. But someone always is – the sweeper. Volunteers are an integral part of any race, and one of the most important roles is that of the sweeper. These are the people who follow the last racer. Their job is multi-faceted and super important. And super rewarding. Not only do you help ensure the safety of the racers, but you get to share in the experience and play a part in helping people do something they weren’t sure they could do!
Sweepers can help ensure injured racers receive proper care in a timely manner. The sweepers should carry some sort of communication device (cell phone with the race director's and volunteer coordinator's numbers). Please call 911 for life-threatening emergencies before calling race personnel. It is important that you are familiar with the course and have a good idea where you are on the course at all times. In case of an emergency, the sweeper should stay with the injured runner and wait for help, or try to reach the nearest aid station together.
Sweepers arriving at an aid station is the signal to those volunteers that they can shut down and leave. This is also true for the finish line; the sweepers’ arrival indicates that all runners are in BUT the sweeper should not release course monitors on side streets because the entire street needs to wait to reopen until all runners are clear.
Another aspect to sweeping is to motivate and reassure the last runner(s). Every runner is different so when coming up on the last racer, talk with them. Ask them whether or not they need company and how they are feeling. Some runners do not want the sweepers running right behind them because it makes them feel rushed and self-conscious. In that case, give them space. Other times, they are having a hard day and need the company. In those situations, feel free to chat with them. If the final runners are getting close to a time cut-off, you can make them aware and let them know what kind of pace/effort is required to avoid a DNF. Again, be familiar with the course. Runners often ask you how far the next aid station is or details on the course and they appreciate it when you have the answers.