I wanted to volunteer for a Tri before actually completing my first one to take some of the mystery out of my own race day. It was my first time being on the volunteer side of a race and it was actually really fun even though I didn't I went out by myself. I could see myself volunteering for other races in the future - it was that fun!
Since they were short a few volunteers, I did a variety of jobs - from unloading post-race food from cars, to body marking participants, to directing racers on the run, and helping break down the finish line and transition area after the race.
Body marking was actually a fun job - I mean actually getting to write on people's skin with a permanent marker? Awesome!
Tip #1 (especially for the ladies): shave the night before or morning of the race. I know this seems like common hygiene sense, but I am not really one to shave my legs every day (men, of course, you aren't required to shave - lucky!) and I feel it would be a little less awkward to let someone mark me up if I have smooth legs!
|Back of the transition area just before the start of the race.|
Just before the race started, I moved to my place where I would be for the race. I was stationed at the run exit/finish entrance to direct racers where to go as they exited and then again when they came in for the finish line. So in my opinion, I got to see one of the best parts of the race - after they get off the bike and are starting the run. Most racers Saturday looked really strong, so I have high hopes with my upcoming bricks planned I will perform similarly in my own race.
So, for each runner that came out of T2, I would say something like "stay left, in between the cones". I even had an official looking vest AND a flag (too bad no picture evidence). Surprisingly there were about half a dozen racers that tried to turn right even though A) I verbally said left to everyone and B) I was blocking the right exit AND there was a sign with an arrow pointing left. Goes to show you how discombobulated you can get during a race!
Another funny story was the lead racer coming back from the turnaround on the run. He goes, "I thought this course was flat!" It was funny to see even the fastest guy out on the course making jokes and having a good time. I think that's one of the things I enjoyed most about volunteering - seeing all of these participants, whether they were the lead of the pack, middle of the pack or the last racer on the course, having fun, smiling, and accomplishing a goal they set out to do.
The final racer was a man who had a double leg amputation. His wife and son had been waiting for him near the finish line and the race staff had given them permission for his son (around 3 or 4) to run the finish line with him. I still get tears thinking about this moment in the race - it was so special to witness him taking his son by the hand as they crossed the finish line.
Another Tip - As one of the race participants was leaving I asked why a lot of people brought their stuff in those large plastic painter's buckets. He was so kind to indulge me by describing how 1) it's helpful to sit on when putting your shoes on and 2) you can throw your gear in it as you finish each leg so you can keep everything organized. So say after your swim leg, you put your shoes on (while sitting on the bucket) then you flip it over and throw your goggles and swim cap in it. It was a helpful hint I think I'll use.
He also told me to only compete with myself at my race - don't compete with others on the course. A good reminder to run my own race.
All in all it made me super excited for my own race - although I'm only 2 weeks into training, I feel ready. I know by time July 21st rolls around I will be ready to accomplish the distance. Oh, and next time you participate in a race - thank a volunteer. It felt good when people thanked me as they walked to their cars!