A few weeks back Team Schmitty volunteered at Ironman Wisconsin - run special needs. Because as we all know,
runners have specials needs.
For the inquiring...Ironman allows athletes one special needs bag for the bike and one for the run. Athletes drop off these specially designated bags on race morning. The bags are then magically whisked away by the special needs bag fairies to the midway points on the bike and run.
During the race, athletes are their own nutritional pack mules...they have to carry all their own nutrition (that they want over and above or instead of what is available at the aid stations) and can't accept or drop off anything with family, friends or kind strangers along the race course. So other than official aid stations, these bags are your only respite once out on course...a care package that you send to your future bad-ass Iron racing self.
Athletes can put anything they want into the bag for whatever they think they may need - in case of emergency or just as back up....a spare tire tube, dry socks, an extra water bottle, a big mac (you think I'm kidding, don't you?).
The Triathlife volunteered for the 2-6pm shift. This Schmitty was in charge of athletes bags 2201-2300...all 100 bags lined up like an elite force of specially trained soldiers - prepared and at the ready...untied, the numbers neatly facing up...it was orderly, efficient...it was beautiful. Almost majestic.
But I digest.
Overall - we had a great time. It's really hard not to. Volunteers are generally cheery folk. But as an athlete speaking to other athletes....when you toe the line, make sure to pack your manners and your civility. Volunteers are there to help you....it's inherent in the name...they are there donating their efforts and time. Say please and thank you. I witnessed far to many mid-packers getting verbally upset with volunteers. Nothing was directed at me personally but I was preparing myself to not respond to any athlete who took a tone with me...as in "tough crackers, you can go get your own bag."
Do Schmitty a favor at your next race....stop taking yourself so seriously and for the love of Moses thank a volunteer.
Thank them at packet pick-up, thank them at street crossings (yes, thank even the cops) thank them at aid stations....even if you don't take anything from the aid station. Just shout it out - "THANKS FOR VOLUNTEERING!"