Volunteers play a big part of putting on a race. Whether they’re paid police officers securing the bike course, or the ones who just give their time away to help make the event the best it can be for participants, they are sometimes taken for granted and sort of accepted as part of the whole triathlon scene. Ever since I started participating in big events such as the LIVESTRONG Challenge I always thought it was appropriate, no matter how intense, to thank as many volunteers as I could.
If you’ve been following my blog, you know that in my first race I had a huge panic issue in the first quarter of the swim. A longboarder in the lake kept me company for the rest of the swim portion because it wouldn’t let up. I never got his name (or if I did ask, I wasn’t in a good mental state to remember it), but I at least thanked him during the race. I also thanked as many police officers and volunteers as I could on the bike and run portions. The same went for the NJ State Triathlon. For as many police officers as there were blocking off dangerous intersections, I made sure to say thank you. There are always some who slip through the cracks though. But I’m not trying to tout my mad volunteer-thanking skillz here, that’s not the point.
After NJ State Triathlon’s Facebook page posted a picture of a racer standing next to a volunteer named Keith who I do recall being in the transition area, constantly talking in the most upbeat way to get people going in the right direction. He was very energetic and played a big part of making sure nobody went the wrong way out of Transition. I thought it somewhat odd at first in my race stupor but it really was a big help. The transition area was huge, and I never got to scout out all of the Ins and Outs before the race. My favorite part was after the bike and his catch phrase was, “Run away from me! Run away from me! Run away from me,” and he just kept saying that making sure every single person knew the Run Out was on the opposite side. He was awesome.
So, thank you to the paddleboard guy, to Keith, and to all the other volunteers who bring light to our race experiences. Even though we may not all know everyone’s name or get the chance to thank everyone personally, for all the insane questions people ask, dealing with injuries, and who knows what else, you earned it. Thank you for what you do to make our race days positive experiences and making it possible for us to finish races successfully.