Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tri-Events from a volunteer's perspective

Last year, I swore that I wouldn't participate in this event again, for a number of reasons related here, but I was a little wistful yesterday morning that I wasn't geared up in all sorts of spandex, schlepping a ridiculous amount of 'stuff' to San Dimas for an early Saturday.  Instead, I woke up even earlier than if I had been racing so that I could check in as a volunteer for California Triathlon, the group with which I occasionally associate.  Despite my very loose affiliation, I kind of like the volunteer opportunities that the group offers up.  Not that they are all fun, but there usually are moments of levity.  Also, as I've become somewhat more committed to the idea of triathlon and really do enjoy it AND as I recognize the need to connect with different people now that we really live here (having bought a house), I feel compelled to be more involved in the community.  I realize that the triathlon community is fairly exclusive, but it is a community of sorts, so I'm giving myself credit for trying to meet new people and have new experiences.

Last month, my major commitment with CalTri was helping out with the Girls on the Run 5K race in Pasadena.  I signed up to help out with aid stations, and then they put me in charge of aid station and course marshall. THAT was a learning experience!  Do you know how much people drink during a 5K race?  Apparently a lot, even when they are walking half of it (I know, I'm so mean).  This month, the commitment was at the race in Bonelli which, to be totally honest, I enjoyed way more than the 5K experience, probably because I was in charge of nothing, people just told me where to go and that was it!  It is interesting to see how much goes into a race, and even when I have issues with certain aspects of a race, being a volunteer does make me appreciate the logistics.

After helping out with check-in (I was a runner - grabbed the right color swim cap and the t-shirt size), I  was then assigned my major task for the day: trying to direct traffic.  As much as I'd like to not criticize a race, this one had the sprinter course run crossing the road right where all of the cyclists were turning to go into transition.  That was not a great job, especially because some of the runners basically told me to f-off, they were going and there wasn't anything I could do, despite my awesome "race official" orange vest and matching flag. Overall, it wasn't a challenging task, but I did feel responsible for the runners - making sure that they crossed safely.  It was also a great place to watch the cyclists go by once, twice and then turn in after finishing the third loop.

Perhaps the best thing about helping out?  I really wanted to be out there racing.  I'm even thinking about the Ventura Triathlon at the end of the month OR the Pasadena Half-Marathon, also at the end of the month.  And then another part of me is saying - just wait, be patient, and make it to Vineman.

Also, despite not *loving* the course last year and even finding issues with it as a volunteer, I definitely plan to sign up for the final Tri-Events race in October.  It might not be a 'great' race for me, but it is nice to support such a local race.  Also, I still feel pretty tentative about my connection to any tri group (the Groucho Marx quote comes to mind: I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member), but it was nice to see a few familiar faces and cheer people on.


kilax said...

I think it is great that you are volunteering in your community. Even if it's a small community, it's still community! Hee hee :)

Ha ha. Volunteering at my last race made me happy I was NOT running. LOL. Seeing those sprinting 5Kers... yuck!

Kristina said...

Kim - There are times when I'm happy to NOT volunteer at a race. It does make me appreciate all the time and effort that is involved in organizing races.