Blogs tagged with "volunteer"

In the fallout period after my Ironman Lake Placid disaster, I've had time to think, to review, and to get back in the groove. But the thing weighing most heavily on my mind had nothing to do with my performance at the race. It has to do with someone I met during the race -- one of the volunteers.

Somewhere around mile 19 or 20, I was doubled over at an aid station vomiting up everything in my stomach. It was the "penultimate" aid station -- the one BEFORE the last one I saw. At that aid station, several volunteers tried to help me -- from encouraging words to a pat on the back to asking me what I needed... and one of them made a most noble sacrifice. When he noticed I was shivering, he gave me his wind-breaker pullover to wear to the finish line. It wasn't just a random pullover, though -- it was a souvenir from a marathon he had done, the Mount Desert Island Marathon. I couldn't take it. I tried to give it back. But he would not accept it -- he told me to leave it in the volunteer tent after I finished.
But I never finished. And the windbreaker ended up as broken as I did, with two major slits in the sleeves to provide for a medical electrode and an I-V.
Before I left the finish line medical tent, I talked about it to the volunteers assisting me. They said it would be next to impossible to get the pullover back into the hands of the guy who gave it to me. But they suggested I try finding him online via an Ironman.com bulletin board.
Social media came to the rescue once more. I found someone who knows him via the Ironman Lake Placid Volunteers page on Facebook. I wanted to find him for three reasons: 1) to tell him what happened so he didn't just get a ripped up pullover back with no explanation, 2) to return and replace the pullover if possible, and 3) to thank him for illustrating to me the meaning of altruism and giving me faith in humans. His name? Todd. I emailed him. I'm currently awaiting a reply.
In every Ironman I've done, the volunteers have never ceased to amaze me in their concern for the athletes, even in light of what they have to deal with (people collapsing, cups, water and sponges being thrown, random bodily fluids everywhere). In my own experiences, I have seen many amazing acts by volunteers: the kayakers and boaters who gathered up all but one of the Ironman Utah swimmers on that fateful day in Provo, the women who got on their knees to help me search in puddles for the nosepiece of my sunglasses at Ironman Hawaii, the woman who had to scream three times the directions to the finish line at Ironman Coeur d'Alene, the woman who desperately searched for my inhaler in the change tent at Ironman Lake Placid, and the three volunteers, including Todd, who helped me at the aid station two weeks ago. Volunteers are critical to the success of a race. From a local 5K run to an international Ironman triathlon, volunteers make a huge impact in the lives of the athletes. If you're an athlete, take the time to thank them. You may not get another chance like I did.

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