I’ve been racing for almost 10 years, but never volunteered at a race until fairly recently. Now I can’t imagine not volunteering at least a few times a year. Volunteers are what make races happen. Without volunteers our races would either be extremely expensive because of all the staff required or simply not possible. From the person who checks you in at registration, to the person that marks your arms and legs, to the person that tells you when to jump in the water and the person that hands you your hydration and medal at the finish line, they are all volunteers.
As a triathlete training for an Ironman this year, I’ve had to cut down my racing schedule, which has given me an opportunity to sign up to volunteer for various races and even take on the role of co-volunteer coordinator for the 2014 Nation’s Triathlon. Learning the ins and outs of a race through the eyes of a volunteer has given me a newfound respect for the sport. When I race I am now extra aware of the volunteers, thanking as many of them as I can and appreciating all the hard work they put in to make my race happen.
Volunteering has also brought me a new source of motivation. Training is hard. Sometimes your motivation to wake up and hit the pool, or come home after work and jump on the bike is just not there. Volunteering is a perfect way to step away from your own issues and focus on others. The amazing thing is when you focus on others; it actually breathes new life into your own training. Seeing the excited athletes at the expo, on the course on race day and crossing the finish line reminds you why you love the sport. Even as a non-athlete, it’s fun to see all the happy faces as they reach new milestones or aim for new PRs.
So if you’re racing with us this year, take some time to thank your volunteers! You can even sign up to be a volunteer yourself in the days leading up to the race. If you’re not racing, come join me on the volunteer team! I promise you, it’ll be a fun experience. We have a wide range of roles from working at the expo to helping athletes rack their bikes on Saturday at the Transition Area to working at the finish line. Racing and crossing the finish line is an amazing feeling, volunteering and helping others cross the finish line is equally amazing. Sign up to volunteer today!