Marathon’s Engemann: Gathering a village

Advocate staff photo by LIBBY ISENHOWER  From left: Christine Woodfield and Ruth Nan cheer on runners at a bend on East Lakeshore Drive Sunday morning.  Nan's sign reads: That isn't sweat, it's your fat cells crying.  Woodfield's sign reads: Google results are 4ever, keep running.    MAGS OUT / INTERNET OUT/ONLINE OUT/NO SALES/TV OUT/FOREIGN OUT/ LOUISIANA BUSINESS INC./GREATER BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT/225/10/12/IN REGISTER/LBI CUSTOM PUBLICATIONS/
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It takes a village to raise a child, and, Eric Engemann might say, to put on a marathon.

Engemann is the 32-year-old volunteer coordinator for the Louisiana Marathon, and he’s looking for between 1,000 and 1,200 people to help make sure the January events run smoothly. Earlier this year for the inaugural marathon, Engemann assembled an army of 650 volunteers. This year, marathon organizers expect the event, Jan. 18-20, to be bigger and better — bringing between 5,000 and 7,000 runners to Baton Rouge.

When he’s not marshalling the U.S. Marine Corps to run the aid station, which they did for the first marathon, or corralling members of the LSU Lacrosse team to their volunteer stations, Engemann serves as vice president of the Baton Rouge Area Sports Foundation and is a member of the LSU Sports Administration faculty.

Why should people volunteer to work at the marathon events?

“It’s an opportunity for people to get involved in our events and help support a healthy lifestyle. It also can be very motivational and inspirational for people. Those who work on the course or the finish line will see folks finish the half marathon or the marathon, and they might think that’s something they could never do. But then they see these average-looking people doing these amazing things, and they might just be motivated to get up off the couch.”

What do volunteers do?

“They fill lots of different roles, everything from working the water stations on the course and providing encouragement to runners to setting up barricades and cones to helping with registration and working in the expo. We have indoors and outdoors jobs, from early morning to late evening. We especially like to encourage people who live on the route (Tara, Goodwood, Seven Oaks, the Garden District, Lakeshore Drive area) to make a day of it. Put signs in your yard and give the runners encouragement.”

How do you volunteer?

“You can sign up at And if a job is especially physical — moving 10-gallon coolers or cones and barricades — it will be noted on the site.”

Why did you sign on to be the volunteer coordinator?

“I enjoy doing it, even though it can be stressful the evenings of race week. The biggest challenge is communicating with everyone, and making sure workers are where they need to be when they need to be there. But when it all comes together and works well like it did in January, it’s a lot of fun.”

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