Sunday, June 7, 2015

Ironman Texas Volunteer Report - Gina Shand

I love to race. But I love watching other, random people race just as much. So when I had the opportunity to be in the general vicinity of IMTX last month I jumped at the chance to stay a couple of extra days to volunteer. Some of my friends thought I was crazy to spend all that money “just” to volunteer, but to me, it was worth every penny!

My coach and a few of my friends were racing, so I knew I would get to see them, but I truly enjoy giving back to the triathlon community that has given me so much. About three weeks before the race I committed to heading down and I immediately went to the volunteer page. I was so excited to see that there were two spots left for finish line catchers from 9:30PM -12:15AM. I have been to 10 Ironman races as either a participant and/or Sherpa and I have never seen the midnight finish. I was super pumped to get this spot! I also signed up to help with gear bag drop off on Friday and T1 bag help on Saturday. It was going to be a full couple of days, but I couldn’t wait! I also convinced my friend and training partner Melanie to tag along.

Gear Bag Drop off – Day before the race

We spent 4 hours helping the athletes place their T1 and T2 gear bags in transition. It was a blast helping the athletes find their spot, tape up the bags (it was forecasted to pour, which it did!) and help answer all kinds of questions about what to expect the next day. Lots of smiles, nerves and positive energy. If you ever want to feel valued, this is the spot for you! I have never been thanked so much in my life! Got to help my friends set their bags, met TTT teammate Kristen Lodge and ran into an old teammate that I didn’t realize was racing. I also picked up some great tips for keeping items dry and how to keep shoes from getting muddy.

T1 Bag assistance – Race Day

It was a super early 4 am wake up call to drive the 20 minutes to the venue and make sure we could park. It was way too easy and we had some extra time to check out the swim start area. We watched the pro men start, but then opted to head to our volunteer spot so we could be in the section where we would be able to pass the bags off to our friends. It was amazing to be right there, in the mix with all of the athletes as they flew through transition to head to the change tents. Where else can you be so close to the pros? Once the age groupers really started coming in, things got pretty crazy, but we managed to get all of the bags to the right people. This is the job for you if you like a fast paced environment.

Finish Line Catcher - Race Day

After all of the T1 bags were handed out, we grabbed some food and spent the afternoon cheering on the athletes. Even though our volunteer shift wasn’t scheduled to start until 9:30, we came back to the finish line about 8:30 and got to work! Good thing too, because just a few minutes later, here came Kristen Lodge through the finish line and I got to catch her. How cool is that? There is just so much energy at the finish line. Smiles, tears, cramps, leaps, proposals and more! It was an honor to be able to share that moment with complete strangers. In normal situations I am not much of a hugger, but I hugged more sweaty strangers that night that I could count! It truly was magical to be there. We also had a chance to hang out with men’s winner, Matt Hanson, and pro women Rachel Joyce and Katy Blakemore as they were handing out medals to the finshers. I was too much of a fraidy cat to ask for a pic, so I snapped one of Melanie and Matt. I think it is pretty darn cool that the pros come back to hang out with the “rest of us.” 

I had an absolute blast volunteering and can’t wait to do it again! Anyone have a race coming up soon who could use a little extra support? ;)

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Ironman Texas Race Report

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