I volunteered at the Hagg Lake Tri event this weekend, and I had plenty of fun. I got to see my good friend compete in the event, got a great workout, worked on my tan, and raised money for my fundraising Hood to Coast.
It was a fabulous day, and I highly recommend getting out and volunteering for events, whether you are fundraising or not. Here’s why!
If for whatever reason you aren’t feeling up to racing, perhaps you are struggling with your athletic mojo—or maybe you are dealing with coming back from an injury. Well, volunteering at an athletic event will inspire you to get back on the horse. The sense of community from like-minded people at these events oozes through the air. There is electricity and excitement, and you could make some lasting friendships. New workout buddy, perhaps?
2. Giving Back
Many of the races you enter have a hard time finding enough volunteers. They rely on volunteers to help their staff provide athletes with the support and customer service they need. Every race needs people to guide athletes through the course, supply them with water or sports drink, answer questions, etc.
You wouldn’t want to participate in an event that didn’t have someone showing you where to go at that unclear turn on the course. You certainly wouldn’t want a hydration table with no one there filling cups. By volunteering for the occasional event, and sharing the experience with your friends, you ensure the volunteer culture continues for the good of the race.
3. Appreciation for Volunteers
After volunteering yesterday, I have a newfound appreciation for volunteers. It’s not that I didn’t appreciate them before; I absolutely did. However, now I know what they go through. There are some athletes out there who are rather self-important and could use a day or two in the volunteer shirt. While volunteering can be fun, you can also feel rather bored at times. Not to mention, some athletes are pretty rotten to the volunteers who are trying to make their event as carefree as possible.
4. It’s Fun
That said, 99% of event participants are nervous and excited. It was great to see each athlete go from the marking station, through each transition area, and finally through the finish line. There I was, rooting for them at each step along the way. It was a rewarding experience to see the pain, glee, and determination on the faces of the participants.
It’s satisfying and exhilarating to root for the athletes as they compete. I wound up with a sore throat and scratchy voice by the end of my shift.
5. Free Shirt
It could be a hideous color and look awful with your skin tone, but hey—free volunteer shirt! You can always wear it again for gardening, sleeping, mopping the floor, painting, etc. Or, you can sport it proudly and let the world know you give back to your community of people who pay to experience pain.
I didn’t know this until recently, but many of the bigger races will pay volunteers who are fundraising for something. This is why you usually see troops of teenagers at volunteer stations. After yesterday, I realized that most of those teenagers aren’t doing it for the fun of it.
It is a satisfying and simple way to make some money for your fundraiser. I worked a six-hour shift yesterday, and the event will mail the check directly to my fundraiser—so all I had to do was show up, put on my free yellow shirt, do some simple tasks and root on some incredible competitors.
7. Work on Your Tan
It was a gorgeous day yesterday—sunny and warm with a nice breeze. I got to take advantage of some shade when I needed it (under tents) and worked on my tan while I handed out waters and yelled encouragements. I got some sun and avoided potential inactivity at home.
8. A Good Workout, Potentially
I managed to fit in a potent quad workout. My first task for the day was marking the triathletes with their information on their arms and legs. The marking lasted nearly two hours and consisted of squats for the duration. By the end of marking the athletes, my quads were screaming, and they are sore today. Strength training complete!
You don’t have to be at a marking station to get a good workout, however. You can work on your dance moves while you are cheering on the competitors, and give them some glee. Showing encouragement for the athletes—and excitement for your volunteer duties—will be beneficial for everyone.
A note on the Why Racing Hagg Lake Tri from a volunteer’s point of view: the event was well organized. The volunteers were fun, and the staff was incredibly fun and helpful. The music and energy were both upbeat. The announcers were high energy and amusing. Moreover, the medals and the shirts were cool.
While my friend keeps trying to get me to sign up for a tri event, I know that I won’t (I’m a weak swimmer). I will sign up to volunteer at more of her triathlon events. I had a fantastic time, and it was impressive to see her compete.
Even if you only volunteer once, it’s a great experience. I guarantee it will make you appreciate every volunteer so much more.