I chose to volunteer at the WA 70.3 IM Race to learn a bit more of what goes into putting on such a big orchestrated event. What I wasn't expecting was the amount of personal excitement, invigoration, and inspiration that I came away with.
My day started in the dark walking down to the swim start to help with timing. I had no idea what I would be doing or what to expect from the weather because it was supposed to be a really wet day. The task I had was to issue new timing chips to any athlete that had forgotten, lost, or misplaced their timing chip, or swim cap just before they started their swim. The atmosphere was full of anticipation as everyone filed into the water for a 3 at a time start. It felt great to help people panicking and assure them that all was taken care of so they could focus on their race. We were not only giving out replacement chips but words of encouragement and support to people as they began a very demanding day. I met a fellow B70 team member and overall had a really fun morning. The rain held off and none of the predicted thunder so it was a smooth start to the day. After the start, I was shocked that we were asked to gather up and throw away a few hundred sets of shoes and sandals left at the start along with piles of discarded masks. Volunteers were not provided gloves and the amount of garbage generated at the start was pretty disgusting. I think there could be big improvements here to avoid so much waste and plan to make some suggestions to the race director about directing athletes to bag shoes and masks and label with a Bib number. There was a lot of extra time at the end of the start volunteers could have transferred those bags to the transition area for pick-up. I saw this when my husband raced the Oregon 70.3 IM.
After a great start, I joined the rest of my family to help volunteer at a run aid station, and what a blast it was. Cheering on the athletes and providing much needed nutrition. We worked with a HS volleyball team and coach and everyone was just so excited and encouraging. One of the girls had a portable speaker which was a great idea to bring and I think the music was appreciated by everyone. Unlike the swim start, we had a few pages to read to prepare for working the aid station, so we were a lot more prepared for what we would be doing. The supplies were really well organized, and once we got everything set up the time flew by. Again, the weather held out without any significant rain. My one big suggestion, is a bit gross so if you frequently race you may want to stop reading. The gateraid coolers were moldy inside, and we had no way to clean them, so IM needs to make an improvement there. The mold I saw was on the lids so not in the actual drink but I didn't see them before they were filled either. I personally probably will be sticking to water if I ever decide to participate in a race myself.
Overall, it was such a fun day. The best part cheering on all the athletes. I hope everyone racing had a great time because I sure did!