There are opportunities to volunteer for races in every community, for every charity, all year long. My SO has participated in 5K run/walks on various holidays (4th of July, Thanksgiving, etc.) and for various charities (Race for the Cure, Run for the Zoo). He has also taken on the Chicago Marathon and other half marathons in his running career. I’m not bragging about his accomplishments, I am simply pointing out that you can find an event like this, year round, no matter where you live. And they are always looking for volunteers.
My community hosts a mini triathlon every year and I have volunteered for the last 3-4 years now. I worked the Tri for the first time back in 2012. My son needed community service hours for school and we thought this would be a great opportunity. I found out at this event that two of my neighbors had also signed up and had been working the Tri for several years. Mark and Chris are at the first water table as soon as you transition from your bike to the run. They enjoy working this spot and request it every year when they sign up.
So, inspired by them, two other neighbors and I decided to follow their lead and start volunteering. The first year we were assigned the main pool and we have requested it every year. My job is to get everyone lined up by their assigned bib number and keep the line moving once the race starts. That’s it. Not so hard, right? I like this location because it gives me a chance to talk to some of the participants while they are waiting to get in the pool to start. Many of them are doing this triathlon for the first time. And, seeing as a tri has a swim, bike, and run component, you might assume that all these athletes are in great shape. Not necessarily. Some are doing it in an effort to get in better shape. Some are doing it to check off an item on their “bucket list”. Whatever the reason, color me impressed.
This triathlon also hosts a kid’s version. Fewer laps in the pool and a shorter bike ride and run. The number of participants has grown each year that I have volunteered. They are a little more excited to get in the pool (i.e. antsy) and they are a lot chattier in line too. Which is great because I have already had my full tumbler of coffee by the time they start 😊
Once an athlete crosses the finish line, there are tents set up in the parking lot with food (bananas, granola bars) and drinks. Many of these items are available to the volunteers as well. Racers can get massages. They can buy new gear. My SO’s favorite tent after this race (any race really) is the beer tent. Go figure.
I look forward to working this event every year because I get to cheer on my husband (in the pool anyway), I run into friends and neighbors who are racing, and I get to hear inspirational stories. My favorite athlete this year was the 68-year old who was doing her first triathlon. I want to be her when I grow up. Minus the triathlon part. As a final bonus, I got a t-shirt and some swag too. So, get out and volunteer. Your community needs you!