We came, we saw, we volunteered!
We got up bright and early on Sunday morning, and headed over to Haines City, the new location for the Ironman 70.3. Unsure of what an Ironman 70.3 is? It is a triathlon consisting of a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile bike, and a 13.1 mile run – quite a day’s work! The race was a little over an hour from our house, so we gave ourselves plenty of time to get there. After a couple of wrong turns, we found the spot where we were to be stationed for the rest of the day – Water Station #1. By the time we actually got there, mostly everything was already set up. We were paired with a seasoned group that included a boy scout troop in their 5th year volunteering at the race! The had everything down to a science, from the order of the fuel, to who was handling which aid station.
Marcus and I were placed at the aid station that had the Gu Gels, Gu Chomps, coke, and bonk breakers. Side note, if you have never tried the Bonk Breakers, I highly recommend you do! They are very calorie dense (11o cals per pack), and are even gluten free. Not to mention, they taste awesome! I was incredibly impressed!
Marcus ended up heading over to the water station soon after the race started. It was obvious that the athletes needed water far more than they needed the coke at the beginning of the race. The temps were in the 80′s, and it felt even worse in the sun. I’m not sure how much he gave to the runners though…
I kid, I kid. He did an amazing job, and probably had the most energy out of everyone out there! He made sure the athletes knew where the water was, and even gave water to a pretty special competitor…
Yep! Lance Armstrong was competing in the race! The way the course was setup had him passing us 3 times on the run! It was pretty amazing to see how incredibly far of a lead he had on everyone else. The first time he passed us, no one knew it was him, except a very big Lance fan that was volunteering with us as well. Luckily, we had 2 more times to catch him in action! He actually ended up winning the race (by more than 11 minutes!) which was his first Ironman 70.3 victory.
We were on Alta Vista drive, which was the 1 mile, 5.5 mile, and 10 mile water stop. It was amazing to see every athlete 3 times, because you feel even more of a part of their race. You get to know what certain people like, and we encouraged them each and every time they passed us. It was not an easy course, as there were hills and extreme heat for the entire day. Some of the athletes were looking to complete the race, and didn’t care about their time. Other people zoomed through the station and didn’t even stop to fuel up. There were people of every shape and size out there, and it was truly inspiring to see everyone complete their goal!
This was my favorite competitor! She stopped mid stride to pose for a water stop photo – she was awesome!
I was incredibly impressed by each and every athlete that competed Sunday. An Ironman 70.3 is quite the endeavor to take on, especially in May in Florida. I am even more excited to do my first triathlon later this summer, even though it is not even a third of what these athletes all completed! If you ever have a question on whether or not you want to compete in a race, go volunteer at a race of the same distance! The excitement is contagious, and it is unbelievable to support everyone. Volunteering is definitely no joke – I was absolutely exhausted last night – but it is worth every smile, thank you, and high five from those athletes!
Have you ever volunteered at a race? What was your favorite part. If not, would you consider it?