Giving back and being apart of COMMUNITY! Have you ever volunteered at a race event?
It’s 2022 and I finally got to race this year! But for this part I am going to talk about how I got into triathlon and why I volunteer, when I can, at races.
I got into Triathlon because my best friend’s dad was an Ironman Triathlete, a world champion in his age group, and just an all-around awesome dude. When I was in my mid-30’s he got diagnosed with brain cancer, which ultimately took his life. While sick, his family created The Racing for Steve-O foundation, Steve Smith was that man (www.racingforsteveo.org). The first triathlon I did was the Barron Lake Triathlon in Niles, Michigan, it was in 2017 and I only did it because my best friend made me do it, but I am glad I did. It was a charity race for The Racing for Steve-O Foundation, and I was hooked. But I vowed to only do races that were connected to a charity because it gives me more purpose and drive. I found out that most races are connected to a charity in some way and that warms my heart. Giving back to the community, to where there are true needs, really warms my heart. I continued to do the Barron Lake Triathlon yearly and ended up volunteering at the race the last couple of years. I also volunteered as one of the foundations social media assistants. I assisted in making FB posts for upcoming fundraisers to include, of course, the race. However 2021 was the last year the foundation decided to hold the triathlon and they passed off the Barron Lake Triathlon to My Team Triumph for 2022. Still a great race, but I have decided I won’t be taking the trip this year to the race since it is no longer connected to Racing for Steve-O.
Now to this 2022 race. Revolution 3 Williamsburg, also known as Rev3. Takes place in Williamsburg, VA which is only about 45 minutes from my home. I signed up to do the Sprint distance, but since I was going to camp all weekend with friends I knew that I needed to volunteer as well. We got there Friday afternoon and after setting up camp headed over to packet pick-up where we spent the next 4-5 hours handing out race packets for the sprint race. The sprint race was taking place on Saturday and the Olympic and Half was on Sunday. They could only hand out packets for the sprint distance being held on Saturday because they were re-using the timing chips from Saturday for the Olympic and Half distances Sunday. Anyway, it was so fun to be at packet pick up because I got to see, talk to and meet so many people who I would be racing with. When people come up asking questions, talking about how concerned they were with the race because it was their first race, not finishing in the allotted time, etc., I took note and if I saw them on the course, I pumped them up, gave them high fives and cheered them on. Such a magical part of volunteering and racing. I raced on Saturday (which I will talk about in Part 2) and then volunteered again on Sunday.
Sunday morning we got up at 4:30am and headed over to transition to guide people where to rack their bikes, put on body markings, cheer people on, made friends, took pictures and tried to hook my single bestie up (it didn’t work, ha!). We had so much fun though, just being that first person they see in transition, seeing the anxiety on some faces, but being able to talk to them, make them laugh and hopefully get them to a point they wouldn’t worry about the race much. It was a drizzly and rainy morning so most people were not happy having to race in the rain. I mean who is? So we really tried to bring their sprits up by making them laugh, not sure it worked. After transition closed we thought our shift was over, oh no, no we were not…we were pulled by the assistant race director, who is actually a friend, to help out directing swimmers into transition. At least we could hear the DJ playing music and we were dancing in the rain and drizzle. Got some smiles from racers coming out of the water, but not many. When all the swimmers were in, we then we were pushed over to bike mount/dismount, which ended up being the longest part of the shift because we had to stay until the last biker came off the course. Now remember, this day is the Olympic and Half distances, so the last biker was doing 56 miles, he was a half distance racer. I remember him, I marked his number on him that morning and his age on his leg. One of our oldest racers, he was 70. He was the last biker, but he was not the last person to come in that day, so he must have killed it on the run. Since we had to wait for that last biker, it ended up being several more hours on our feet with flags cheering, high-fiving, yelling, supporting, directing traffic and so on, in the rain. But I would not have wanted to do anything else than to support fellow athletes and the community that was there at Rev3. This is one of the best race brands out there, they really care about the racers and volunteers and everyone had fun out there, EVERYONE, despite being rained on alllllll day. What a wonderful experience. If you ever get a chance to volunteer at a race, ANY race, do it. You will be amazed at how much fun you have and what a community you are a part of and how many friends you will meet.