A family affair – Meghan has you covered

The Manitoba Marathon Medical team is one that we never hope you require on race day, but we will always have the infrastructure for if you do. Meghan Robert, along with Dawna Marie Bieniarz, is a nurse and coordinator that works hard on race day to make sure that everyone can run safe and finish happy. Read on to hear about Meghan’s lifelong ties to the Marathon and what makes her race days so exceptional. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated volunteer on our medical team: thank you Meghan for sharing your skills with us to keep participants safe!

When did you first start volunteering with Manitoba Marathon and what initially got you involved?

This is a complicated question! My family has been volunteering for the Manitoba Marathon most of my life starting with my Dad cooking pancakes with the Kinsman when I was really young. Later my mom coordinated the volunteers for the Super Run water station when she worked for Great-West Life. Father’s Day was always a day spent waking up REALLY early and going to help out for the run. My first year volunteering in my current role was in 2012. I was a nursing student at the time and was forwarded an email from one of the medical committee members looking for student nurse volunteers. I thought it was a great opportunity to help out at a community event and while practicing some newly learned assessment skills. And well, getting back to helping the Marathon just seemed a normal thing to do!

What job do you do on race day?

I help with organizing the CARE medical centre. I have done a few different jobs in the centre over the years including taking vital signs of racers and rehydrating them, as well as monitoring the assessment rooms or managing the triage desk when runners arrive to be treated. Now I also assist our charge nurse making sure the centre is ready on race day and orientating volunteers when they show up on race day.

What do you particularly enjoy about that position?

Volunteering in the CARE centre is very unpredictable. Depending on the weather conditions, the centre can either be steady with runners and mostly calm to completely crazy busy and running at full capacity. I enjoy the challenges of an unpredictable day! I am also normally a Labour and Delivery nurse so assessing and treating athletes is so different from what I normally do. I get to learn a bit of sports medicine from the doctors and nurses working as they all have such a variety of medical backgrounds. I’ve always seen the benefit of learning from other disciplines.

What motivates you to stay involved?

I enjoy volunteering for the medical committee and understanding the organizational part of setting up for a big race as well as seeing the day through. Starting from the beginning of preparations in the winter all the way to race day really gives me an appreciation for how big and complicated this event is. The Marathon staff and medical committee volunteers are also a great team to work with; we have a lot of fun!

Do you have a great memory from a race day to share?

Race day is usually a blur but also some of the memories I have can’t be shared in detail for privacy reasons. However as a medical professional I am just blown away how we can operate a medical centre for a major race and make it happen. We have helped to stabilize racers who come to us in sometimes serious condition and we hydrate them and, if needed, transport them out to hospital. The amount of coordination from the staff, volunteers, WFPS, the doctors and City of Winnipeg to name only a few groups is really extraordinary. Also seeing the race finish line at the new Investors Group Field this past year was pretty spectacular!

What do you think is the most important skill that you have gained volunteering with the Marathon?

I think the most important skill I’ve learned is just to be patient with others and learn to communicate well. Working with a blended team of people from all sorts of backgrounds is challenging when we all have an idea of how race day will look and also what our needs are as race staff and care providers.

What is the most important advice you could give to new volunteers with the Marathon?

To be patient with race staff and volunteer coordinators. This is a massive event and it may seem like things are chaotic, but we really do have a plan!

What do you wish other people knew about the Manitoba Marathon and/or the Manitoba Marathon Foundation?

I wish people knew how complicated it is to organize a race of this level. There are so many details to work out prior to race day that I wish everyone knew how special our Manitoba Marathon is and how well it is run. So many people work very hard so race day runs smoothly and I just hope that people appreciate the hard work.

What kinds of changes have you seen in the Marathon over your years as a volunteer?

The biggest was the move to the Investors Group Field for the finish line. That was a scary move with just how big the facility is but luckily it was a cooler race day last year…this year may challenge us again! I love working in the new stadium and getting to use the Bison Football team change room. We are honoured to be allowed to use their space for the weekend.

What are some of your other interests? What do you do professionally?

I am an obstetrics nurse at St Boniface Hospital. I LOVE my job helping moms have babies and I get to do amazing work. When I’m not crazy busy at work I love Moksha hot yoga and attending live music events or festivals around Winnipeg. The Arts community here is so wonderful.

How has your volunteer work influenced other areas of your life?

Volunteer work has always been a big part of my family life growing up and when I worked in the arts. I understand how important it is to give back to the community in order for events like the Manitoba Marathon to be successful and it’s a good way to give back. I enjoy meeting new people and love learning from others with whatever it is I participate in. The more you participate in life, the more you get out of it!


United Way Winnipeg