Volunteering is Fun!
One of the critical ingredients in a successful triathlon is volunteers. Volunteers make it possible to conduct a safe, well-organized event. In a triathlon, volunteers are needed in a variety of areas. In all cases, volunteers will find their task fun and exciting. At the end of the day, they'll feel like they made a valuable contribution to the success of the race. They will also feel appreciated - triathletes are known to be a very appreciative group. It won't be unusual for many participants to thank you for your contribution during the race.
Almost all of our volunteers return the following year. You'll find the atmosphere to be electric. If you volunteer we urge you to be energetic and enthusiastic, but above all, HAVE FUN!
The various volunteer jobs are listed below - followed by descriptions to each job. If you'd like to help us out, simply click on the "volunteer form" link on the page of the event you'd like to help with!
Swim Course (on water)
People who own boats, jetskis, kayaks or canoes are always welcome to help out during the swim portion of the race. We use a very simple rule when it comes to water safety: we can never have too many watercraft out on the water during the swim. People who volunteer in this area will be directed by the "Swim Coordinator" to take a specific position along the swim course. Our water safety flotilla have two basic responsibilities:
A) Give a swimmer who needs assistance something to hang on to. By positioning watercraft around the perimeter of the swim course, there is always somebody near a potential problem. Triathletes are not disqualified for hanging on to a watercraft temporarily before continuing their swim. But they are disqualified once they exit the water. They can't change their mind and get back into the water to continue the race.
B) Our water safety personnel are our eyes and ears for problems during the swim. Triathletes are instructed to wave their hands above their heads should they feel like they need assistance. They're also instructed to take off their swim caps and hold them in their hands as they're waving. This is what our water safety personnel are looking for. Each watercraft will be given a disposable whistle and an an orange flag. Should you detect a problem, blow the whistle and wave the orange flag above your head. This will allow one of our immediate response watercraft (outboards or jetskis) to assist you quickly. We will also equip each watercraft with either a life vest or a lifesaving tube to toss to anyone who needs assistance. Our swim course coordinator will be in radio communication with a medical response team on shore, should the need arise.
Swim Course (on shore)
These volunteers will assist with the check-in procedure of triathletes prior to the beginning of the swim. Triathletes are checked into a holding pen prior to the race where we check off their numbers. At the end of the swim, we have volunteers who direct the participants in the appropriate direction. Volunteers are asked to also keep spectators out of the way during the race.
Volunteers on the bike course are there to direct the participants to turn the appropriate way at certain intersections. Event organizers mark each turn with brightly colored turn signs and orange spray chalk on the road surfaces. Volunteers are equipped with bright orange vests and orange flags.
IMPORTANT: Volunteers are asked to not wave the orange flags but rather to just hold the orange flag pointed in the direction the participants will be turning. Also, make sure you're in a good location - one that allows the participant to clearly see you as they approach the intersection.
Police will be located at any intersection that requires vehicular traffic to stop and yield to bikers. Volunteers will not be asked to deal with vehicular traffic. This is the job for the police.
Volunteers on the run course have the responsibility of directing participants at certain turns. Volunteers will have orange flags. Point the orange flag towards the turn - don't wave it.
The transition area is the fenced in area containing all the bike racks. This area sees action the entire time. Here are the basic responsibilities for transition area volunteers:
Before the event transition area volunteers are provided with clipboards that contain a variety of frequently asked questions. Volunteers will be stationed at the two entrances to the transition area. They will be asked to keep spectators out of the transition area. The transition area is for participants only. Participants know this and have been told repeatedly. In addition to the this job, the volunteers will be answering basic questions from participants using these clipboards (Where is registration? Where are the port-a-lets? etc.)
During the event transition area volunteers will become traffic cops - directing participants out the appropriate exits of the transition area. They will continue to keep any wandering spectators out of the transition area.
Set Up Events utilizes the state-of-the-art ChampionChip Timing System - the most advanced timing system in the world. With the ChampionChip system volunteers basically have two jobs.
One job will include making sure that participants pass through the timing chutes (either fencing or pennant line will be used) and also making sure that spectators keep out of the timing chutes. Volunteers will also be asked to make sure that nobody (other than race staff) tampers with the timing mats or boxes. Two volunteers are required at each timing location.
The other job will be at the finish line where a couple of volunteers will be asked to cut the disposable ankle bracelets off of each participant. These disposable ankle bracelets hold the special computer timing chip. Volunteers will use special blunt nose medical scissors. After cutting off the bracelets, these volunteers will separate the disposable ankle straps from the timing chips. The finish line will be set up in such a fashion as to force participants to exit the finish line area through one narrow gate. Volunteers will be stationed at this gate. NO participant will be allowed to leave this area without having their ankle bracelet removed.
Participants have to be marked so that they can be identified as they exit the water following the swim portion of the race. This is done to assist USA Triathlon officials during the event, as this is their way of identifying participants. Body marking is also done to assist the official race photographers. Participants are marked with black magic markers. Volunteers write the participant's number CLEARLY and LEGIBLY on both arms and on both upper legs. They also write the participant's event category on the back of their right calf. A chart is provided for the body markers to identify the various event categories.
These are the folks who assist with serving the beverages and food to participants following the event.
Volunteers are needed to park all the arriving participants in designated parking areas.
During the run portion of the event, we have aid stations set up for the participants. Volunteers typically hand participants cups filled with water and/or energy drinks. At selected events (longer events), the aid stations are also stocked with energy gel and other food items. Most of the time, the aid stations only have drinks. It's always a good idea to have one member of the aid station crew assigned to picking up cups during the evemt. This will save a lot of time when the event is over.
Packet Pick-Up & Registration
Volunteers are always needed to assist our Set Up event staff at packet pick-up/registration. Prior to the event, participants must check-in. They receive their official event numbers, packet of information, t-shirts, swim caps, etc. This function takes place for two hours prior to the race and also for a few hours the day before the event.
Event organizers are always looking for radio operators with strong message handling skills. Preference will be given to FCC licensed amateur ("Ham") radio operators. If you are a licensed amateur radio operator, please include your callsign along with your name. We often need radio operators at aid stations, as SAG (Support & Gear) vehicles, motorcycle SAGs and as "Shadows" (following a key organizer or leader and coordinating his or her communications in the field). All operators should have Handie-Talkies with at least two sets of battery packs, and those assigned to aid stations may need a 12 volt battery source. A portable 2 meter and 70 cm antenna will also be helpful.