Wednesday, June 4, 2008

First Triathlon Volunteer Experience

As a member of the Inside Out Sports/Team Multisport Triathlon Team I am required to participate in two volunteer activities each season. I helped clean up a highway at the beginning of the year, which counted as my first activity. With a couple of options for my second activity I finally settled for volunteering at the Swim for Smiles Youth Triathlon. The kids were up to 18 years old and there were two distances. I can't recall the numbers for longer distance, but the shorter distance was a 100m swim, 2.5 mile bike, and 1k run. I received my designated volunteer assignment a couple days before the race and was asked to arrive at the event at 8:30 am race morning.

Race morning I arrived at the Chapel Hill Country Club at 8:30 am. The clubhouse was already a madhouse with people running around everywhere. I had been assigned to finish line duty, but when I checked out the finish line there already to be way too many volunteers standing around so I offered to help with keeping kids away from the food until they'd finished the race. Oh, and parents too. And brothers and sisters who weren't racing, and just wanted the food. It was a tough job and suited me well as it was in the shade (under an veranda type thing with fans and everything). The air temperature was already up to 75 even though it was still early and the sun was strong. Just as I was getting comfortable though a bunch of the finish line volunteers left for Church (arghhhhh...) and I was moved over to my original assignment.

It wasn't bad at first. One or two kids would come in at a time. I'd tear their number off and put it in a bowl (to be used for a prize drawing later), while another volunteer cut off the chip that was around their ankle. Again, fine at first. But it kept getting hotter. I was drenched after just 15 minutes standing out there with no shade nearby. Kids kept trickling in. Then one came across the line and just as I was about to grab his number he got sick everywhere. Ugh. Then another kid got sick. There must have been about 10 pukers throughout the course of the race. You could tell sometimes, but other times they looked fine and then all of a sudden...

It was quite the experience. Started to think that it's probably easier to race than to volunteer at a race. I've taken volunteers for granted the 6 years I've been racing so I'd like to thank everyone who has volunteered in the past. It's not easy work. And I was helping out a very short, kids triathlon. I can't even begin to imagine what it's like to volunteer at an Ironman. Thank you to everyone who has. :)

No comments: