By now, you have started at least thinking about your goals for the 2004 season. How many races do you have on your list? What are your personal goals? How can you maintain balance between training, family life, and your job? Are you only focusing on racing and training this season?
Well, since we are setting our goals, let’s think about setting a goal that many of us have never thought about - much less achieved. What am I talking about? Well, you will leave your race feeling a sense of fulfillment that you may have never felt before. Still don’t have a clue? Sign up to be a race volunteer! Okay, now I have made some of you feel uncomfortable and you might be saying that you would rather do hill repeats for hours than be a race volunteer, but give me a chance.
Some of my past race memories are because of some great volunteers. Let’s think about what is accomplished at most races by volunteers:
The first thing that I can imagine hearing is, “How you can you volunteer and participate in a race?” Well, let me tell you how it can work. If a race is not a priority race for you during the season and is held in your local town, ask the race organizers if you can help put race packets together. Ask them if you can come the day before the race and help lay out the transition area. Still think that you can’t do this and race? I have personally seen one of the best racers the Southern Region show up before a race to volunteer and then still place first at the event the next day. I have seen the same triathlete helping tear down bike racks after a race.
If you don’t want to do a race and volunteer some time, think about going to a race that you are not competing in and volunteering there. I think that it can potentially serve a couple of purposes for you. If you have never competed in a triathlon, this will give you an up close and personal chance to see what goes on at an event and will give you the possible opportunity to experience things that you might not as a spectator. If you have previously competed, you have a lot to offer. As a previous competitor, you can be a valuable asset for any race director because you won’t need to have as much direction as someone who has never been to a race before. You might even be able to serve as a volunteer coordinator for part of an event and free up the race director. Your opportunities basically are limitless.
Some of you probably are thinking that is easy to write about being a race volunteer and might wonder if I have actually have set this goal for myself. Well, the first triathlon that I ever attended was in the capacity of a volunteer. Since I have started racing, do I still volunteer? You better believe it! This year I have volunteered for four races and I will volunteer for at least that many, if not more in 2004. Why, you might ask? When I race, I get a great sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, but when I volunteer I get a great sense of fulfillment also. I hope that by doing the little things like giving someone a glass of water, running an extension cord, or just helping with registration I have made someone else have a great experience at a race like I have had. Sometimes when we make sacrifices for others, we are often surprised for some reason to realize that we made a difference. The choice will be up to you. Will you give back to the sport which has given so much to you, or will you be content to let others serve you?
The truest gift is the gift of self - for it is only through sacrifice that the art of giving is learned.
- Felicia Pate – Number one fan of Michael Pate -
Copyright When Big Boys Tri 2003
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