Tuesday, November 19, 2013

IMAZ - Volunteer Duties

Ironman Arizona.  No, I did not race.  I volunteered.  Run Aid station six, which on a two loop course meant we were right around mile 6.5 and 19.5. 

No, I didn’t do this out of the goodness of my heart.  I did it for one reason, to get priority registration into IMAZ 2014.  However, having raced four half-iron distance races, and one full I understand how important volunteers are. 

My shift was 7:00-11:00 PM, however, I went to the Ironman village about 2:00, saw the winner cross the finish, and a whole bunch of age-groupers come off the bike and head out on the run. 

I headed over to my station about 3:30 and jumped in.  Early on was a mix of the fast kids going through mile 20 and mid-packers hitting mile 6.  As time went on, the mid-packers cycled through to mile 20, and back-packers were coming through mile 6.  Finally the groups thinned out and it was back of the packers coming through at mile 20.  

I love watching these people come through.  They are usually walking, you can see the pain and agony of 134 miles done.  They are pulling every ounce of what they have to go the final 6.6.  We call out what we have, and they are glazed over.  They want something they just don’t know what.  We try to encourage, and motivate.  And I hope they make it, hope they hear Mike Riley call their name.  Hope they have the memories of being an Ironman.  Most will make it.  Some will not.   Seeing the broom wagon creep behind runners gives the eerie feeling of the grim reaper stalking.  I hope they try again. 

Highlights from my perspective:  Seeing the challenged athletes come through with pain, anguish, and a smile.  Chasing the athlete down about 1/3 of a mile that wanted vasoline, but we didn’t have it right at the table.  She was really surprised!  Cheering on my fellow Tri Clubbers!  

Lowlights: I didn’t see one of my open water swim mates, Shawn, who went on to a great finish; and one person drop an F-bomb when he was handed coke and wanted broth.  Note- he asked for Coke, and dude, lighten up.  

Observations:  When I started this stuff, I was told when you enter an aid station, know what you want, seek the person that has it, make eye contact and point.  I do this, and get what I need 99% of the time.  I was surprised how many people come in with no idea what they want, and look like they need a menu.   Steve's suggestion, don't be shy.  Call out clearly what you want.  The volunteer that has it should respond and hold it out.  The volunteers want to get you what you need, and want to help you. 

A serious observation:  I saw several people come through that looked overwhelmed and undertrained for the event.  An Ironman is a BIG event.  I encourage all triathletes that want to reach for an Ironman to do it, but please, take the preperation seriously.  You don't have to be super lean (but leaner helps) you don't have to be fast, but you can't be slow at all three sports, and you have 17 hours.  In my humble opinion you should think you can honestly do it in 15.5 before signing up.  This gives you 1.5 hours for "bad stuff" to happen and you will still make it. 

The aid station I was at is affiliated with the Blazemanfoundation for ALS.  If you are not familiar with this story, please see it here. 

I got registered for the event next year, so Ironman number two is 363 days away.  Here we GO! 
By the way, working an aid station is almost as tiring as racing.  I need a nap.


  1. Thanks for volunteering & for the great report. I competed and the volunteers were beyond awesome. I'm not shy & I know what I want and there were several volunteers competing to give it to me. I was so grateful for their support. I'm a mid-packer (11:54:45) & I gotta tell you, passing mile 20 was a totally joyous experience with only 6.2 to go! Good luck next year.

    1. Scott, Congrats on a great finish. I consider sub 12 one of the fast(er) kids. You are so right about mile 20. When I hit it at CdA I knew I was going to make it.