Race for Free (and The Other Side of Things)

I spent my morning on the other side of a race!




My alarm went off way before dawn, at 4:40 am. I was heading out to the Baldwin Park Triathlon to be a volunteer.


Why did I get up so early to volunteer at a race?!?!


I volunteered my time this morning in return for getting a race credit! Next time that I want to do a Buttar race, I get to do it for free! Pretty sweet deal if you ask a poor college kid if you ask me!  Races are expensive! For example, today’s sprint tri was in the neighborhood of $85!


I left my apartment so early that I was barely hungry. I packed an English Muffin with almond butter + banana to eat on my drive over.




I arrived at the check in at 5:15 and headed out to fill water containers. I had to take pictures with my iphone (no flash) so they are kind of blurry.




The race was short volunteers, so I was left to man the first water station alone. YIKES!




I set up the table, full of gels and cups.I set out tons of pre-filled water cups in hopes that there would be enough for everyone…





The first biker came around the corner only 19 minutes after the race started. That means he somehow managed to swim 750m, run to the transition, and bike a mile in that short amount of time!




My station was for runners (the third leg) so I had a bit of time to watch and cheer for the bikers as they were zooming by. It was hard to scream for everyone!




The bikers had to do 5 laps around the lake, so I kept seeing the same people over and over.




By the time the runners started coming, I could barely keep up with the water cups. I really could have used a second person at the station with me!


I ran out of filled cups in a matter of minutes! I was supposed to use the water spout to fill water out of the cooler, but it wasn’t working fast enough!




I ended up taking 2-3 cups in each hand and dunking them into the cooler of water to pass them out. Gaaaaaah!


The bulk of the runners had gone through the station, and I was left with cups and trash everywhere.




I usually crush my cup before I throw it when I am at races…




…but I realized that it makes it MUCH easier on the volunteers if you DO NOT crush the cup. Crushed cups don’t stack!




Once the last runner went through my station, I packed it up. As soon as I got back to the starting line, I grabbed two oranges. It was so hot out, I needed the refreshment!




I spent another two hours helping to tear down the event.




You wouldn’t believe how much trash people left in the transition areas!




By the time I was released, I was starving! I treated myself to a Whole Foods Lunch.




I picked up a brown rice California roll and an Honest Tea. I REALLY wanted a Mango Acai flavor, but they were out. Peach Oo-la-long was a nice change, but not my favorite! Every time I took a sip I wished it was my beloved Mango Acai!




It was a really fun experience! I think that every runner or triathlete should volunteer at a race, at least once! I never realized how much work went into set up and tear down. People were rushing around behind the scenes and it was fun to see!


Next time, I would love to work the transitions. It was fun to hand out cups and motivate people with my shouts of “Girl! You are EPIC!” and “Come on, you can do it!” but I think that seeing the transitions would be really fun.


Have you ever volunteered at a race?  Would you ever consider volunteering at a race?


❤ MegaNerd

21 Responses

  1. What a great idea to get a free race in!

  2. How great of you to volunteer. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you get a free race out of it. I’ve never volunteered at a race before, but it sounds like a fun idea.
    Today I ran with my neighbor (11 yrs old) in a Girls on the Run 5k. At the water station I said to her “this is the only time it’s okay to litter.”

    I think the girls felt so scandalous throwing their cups on the ground.

    Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

  3. The first time I volunteered for a race it was actually a really bad experience. The employees of the company running the race were really rude to us. It definitely left me with a poor opinion of the race company and of the event in general (and it is a HUGE, worldwide event).
    I am working a water station next weekend for the big marathon and half-marathon in my city. I think it will be fun. Normally I’d be running the half, but since I’m doing an out of town event the weekend after, I get to volunteer at this one.

  4. I can’t believe you had to do a whole water stop by yourself! I volunteered at a water stop for a half marathon, and it was so much fun. I was at the last water stop of the race, so everyone was tired and it was fun to cheer them on and encourage them. We had Michael Jackson playing loudly and everyone loved it and was singing along.

  5. That is a lot of trash! Seems like one person is not enough at a water station, good work for keeping up!

  6. Sounds like a fun and enlightening experience. I haven’t volunteered at a race yet, but I would like to. I really want to work the Boston Marathon one year…but I want to run it more! Good work today!

  7. I will be volunteering this year to qualify for the NYC Marathon, and I am excited for it!

  8. How awesome!! I’d love to volunteer at a race sometime. I’m always so grateful for those volunteers that hand my tired butt water as they’re running by. I hope you got lots of thank yous today from people! 🙂

  9. I love that you tried to cheer for EVERYONE 🙂

  10. I volunteered for a marathon as I was training for my first one. I was fortunate to get assigned to the Finish Line, handing out mylar blankets. Seeing everyone cross the Finish Line was, surprisingly, a very emotional moment for me. It was very rewarding, I’m glad I did it, and hope to do it more often.

  11. I have volunteered at the Chicago marathon the past two years and it has been very, very fun. They give track jackets to everyone which are handy during the winter. I can’t wait to see it from the other side this year! 10/10/10!

    I also volunteered at a smaller race mainly for the free race entry as well.

  12. I’ve never volunteered but I do think that it would be fun!

  13. I can’t believe I missed you today. I have a vague memory of running through one of the water stations and a brunette dunking cups into the cooler – I wonder if that was you! By the time I was running, I was so determined to pass everyone I could that I completely zoned out.

    Thanks for volunteering girlie!! I volunteer for Disney events and I love the fact that I get a free park ticket out of it. 🙂

    • Hahaha yeah that was me!

      I couldn’t keep up with all the runners, so I had to dunk cups. LOL.

      No worries, I would be zoned out, too!

  14. I’ve never raced *or* volunteered, but that’s such a great idea! Don’t know how you all did it in that sun today, though – I was over on the other side of Baldwin Park today )and funny enough, at the Orlando Whole Foods! Crazy!)

  15. Some day I would LOVE to volunteer at one. As it is, I can barely make it to run them!

  16. I volunteered at a Tri in April. I did the course setup and it was such hard work! My abs were actually sore for a couple of days. I loved volunteering and it felt great to see a race from the other side.

  17. that sounds so fun! and what a good deal about getting a race entry!

  18. I volunteered at a 5K a few years ago, but it was the first year for this particular race so it was super tiny and it was well before I started running. I think I would enjoy volunteering more now that I have been on the other side of things!

  19. I have never volunteered at a race but I would love to someday. That is neat that you can get into a race for free in return, great incentive!

  20. Way to volunteer!! I’ve volunteered at a couple races- I got to do bodymarking at the last tri I was at. It was really cool to see all the athletes coming in and setting up. I’ve never gotten credit for a race though!

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