Hello, service leaders! If you are looking for a big way to get your club involved with service, than one option would be to create a 24 hour service marathon! There is a lot of planning that goes into this but it is great for your club because it provides a LOT of fun service for the members and with an extended time period, people will be more likely to go at the times that fit their schedule. You do not need to plan this alone so read more to find out what goes into planning this marathon!  

What is a Service Marathon?

A Service Marathon is a large-scale event in which approximately 24 hours worth of service projects are arranged nearly consecutively for members to attend. Alternatively, 26 hours are often used to match the 26 mile distance of an actual running marathon. Service Marathons usually include a competitive aspect that incentivizes and motivates members to participate in service.

How to Plan a Service Marathon

  • Select a date


Find 2-3 consecutive days with open availabilities for incorporating 24+ hours worth of service projects. Avoid dates with large, conflicting events or dates especially close to exam season as they will lessen members’ ability and motivation to participate in service. If there are no open availabilities, a possible option is to split the event into smaller “half marathons” of 12-13 hours in order to accommodate to the club’s schedule.

  • Plan events


Begin contacting organizations to set events on the dates you have chosen. This is not always easy as many event timeframes tend to overlap, but if possible, try to provide some space between each event to give members an opportunity to attend consecutive projects. Oftentimes, it is difficult to reach the goal of 24+ hours entirely with large events. Thus, tabletop service projects can be planned for late evenings or within large gaps between other service events.

    • Get proper permission when inviting other schools:
      • ***THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT*** If you are planning on working with other schools outside your home club you must fill out an Event Request Form or ERF to ensure the proper permission is granted and correct number of chaperones/advisors are available for the event. ERF’s take some time to fill out so please allow AT LEAST one month before the event to fill out all the required sections. ERF’s can be found on the CNH website in the Resource Database tab or at the link below http://resources.cnhcirclek.org/category/2-policies_forms_and_manuals/

  • Find prizes for recognition or create a competition (optional)


Service Marathons provide an opportunity to recognize members for their service as well as an opportunity to include a competitive aspect that will incentivize members to participate. Find prizes and arrange recognition accordingly.

    • Possible ideas:
      • Recognize those who accumulated the most hours during the marathon.
      • Create a competition amongst the family system or big-little/mentor-mentee system, which can also promote bonding and unity.

  • Publicize


Brainstorm different ways to publicize the Service Marathon to the club. Begin advertising the event early in advance to give members the ability to sign up for events and arrange their schedule. If including recognition or competition, publicize these aspects of the event as well.

    • Possible ideas for publicizing:
      • Make a Facebook event page. Invite members during the prime hours of Facebook activity so that the event is not lost in their notifications.
      • Create a video. Film and present a video that showcases each of the projects that are planned for the event. Play the video at general meeting and/or post on the club’s social media pages.
  1. Important things to keep in mind

This event will be 24 hours which means there will be many people up late at night and some might be traveling at that time. Safety procedures need to be addressed and clear to all of the participants.  

    • Safety issues to be addressed:
      • The event will be taking place overnight so traveling safely is very important. Make sure each driver isn’t too tired and has a passenger that will stay up with them throughout the drive to make sure they are safe. Provide energy drinks, mint gum, coffee, anything to keep them up and alert.
      • Make arrangements for people who need to sleep. Some people will want to be up all 24 hours but encourage them to sleep for a few hours. Set up houses that people can go to to sleep, brush their teeth, shower, use the restrooms, etc. and make sure everyone in the house is okay with people coming in at different hours throughout the night.
      • Address boundaries as well. Some of the houses can be for girls to go sleep/shower where guys can go to other locations, etc. Ensure there is enough space for people to sleep and no one is invading other’s personal space.
      • For the people in charge, create a rotation system so there is always a contact person on-call that knows about all of the sites and can assist. Even if you are in charge, remember to get some sleep as well and keep your health in mind.
      • Provide waiver forms and medical forms for everyone participating in the event. ***THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT*** For any event with Circle K members that involves labor, all members MUST bring a signed waiver and medical form to the event in order to participate. These forms can be found on the CNH Circle K website in the Resource Database tab or down below at  http://resources.cnhcirclek.org/category/2-policies_forms_and_manuals/  

Personal Experiences with Service Marathon Planning

Lily Lequang, UCLA

UCLA’s Circle K hosts a Service Marathon once a quarter, and thus, I have helped plan 3 Service Marathon events over the past year. Our club uses the 26 hour format to emulate an actual running marathon; however, last quarter, I suggested the idea of creating a “half marathon” when we were unable to fit the entire event into one weekend. We held two Service Half-Marathons of approximately 13 hours each on consecutive weekends.

Tips and Recommendations:

  • Begin planning early. It is very important to set a date well in advance in order to ensure that your club will be able to accommodate such a long event. Communicate with other board members who may also be selecting dates for their events to avoid any conflicts. I usually selected a date at the very start of the quarter and then began planning the specific events later on.
  • Find chairs for each of your events. Planning a Service Marathon can be quite exhaustive and thus, delegating chairing responsibilities to other members will help ease your stress load as well as provide others with the opportunity for leadership!

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