Kristie’s Volunteer Report

12 08 2007

Submitted by F4 Athlete, Kristie Schorer

“Gatorade! Gatorade! Water on your left, Gatorade on your right.”

Many of us new to a sport, in my case triathlon, experience that first endorphin rush from pushing ourselves beyond our known limits. And then, we are hooked and become hungry for more. We spend our free time reading articles from the experts, investing in state-of-the-art equipment which promises to shave seconds off our time, and focusing on key skills that will take us to the next level of performance. All of these efforts help us define to ourselves who we are as athletes. Some in the sport even cling to labels to define their athleticism…..pro, elite, age grouper, middle of the packer, finisher….

 

But for FREE, direct, and surprisingly fun information on who we are as athletes and who we aspire to be, volunteer for an aid station! Not only is it good to give back to our sport, but it provides valuable information.

Recently, I volunteered at the F4 aid station on the run of the 5430 Long Course triathlon. I volunteered from 8:00 A.M. to 12:15 P.M. passing out Gatorade and sponges. Yes, it was a long, hot day…sticky too from serving up the Gatorade. I dedicated these hours to volunteering, rather than training for my own half ironman the following weekend. And, ironically, I left incredibly dehydrated. But, I had so much fun! With renewed enthusiasm for my sport and appreciation for my fellow competitors, this is what I took away from my volunteer experience:

1) Attitude is EVERYTHING. And, it is contagious….As athletes in triathlon, we get into a self-focused pattern. We become myopic and see only our race, and our PR hunt, or our podium finish. But each and every person we share the course with is an athlete competing for their own reason. And, ask any successful athlete in the sport, no matter how hard we train, things don’t always turn out the way we want. When things happen that frustrate us; roll with it. Thank the volunteers, encourage other athletes on the course that may be having one of those days, even smile once in awhile….besides the pros who are racing for a paycheck, the rest of us should be having fun, right?

2) Everyone on the course is an athlete and deserves the same respect for their goals, even if they are not going for the win. Volunteering at an aid station, we get to see first-hand the pros laying down the hammer to win that paycheck. But we also get to see athletes exceeding their expectations. Athletes who never thought they would finish something as challenging as a half Ironman due to cancer, a disability, or life’s ups and downs. I felt their determination and courage, as they pressed on through the aid station which gave me a renewed appreciation for our sport and why we push ourselves both physically and mentally…and how invigorating tapping into the human spirit is. We are fortunate to move our bodies and stretch our minds to be out there on the course….whether we cross the finish line with our PR or not. So, lighten up if another athlete stumbles into your line, or stops unexpectedly to pick up their dropped gel flask.

3) The environment needs our help. As athletes, we spend hours upon hours training in the outdoors. For me, the sun on my face, the wind in my hair, and my feet pounding on the dirt feeds my soul. I think as runners and triathletes we all share a common bond in our love for the outdoors. As a volunteer for an aid station, I was overwhelmed at how much waste is generated by athletes on that one day. Things we can do to help to minimize our impact, include: supporting races with green initiatives like the 5430 series, only dropping gel wrappers and other waste in designated drop zones or aid stations so volunteers can clean them up; not only to preserve a pristine environment so during the next week when we are out on our EZ recovery run, we don’t have to see last weekend’s waste littered about, but also to protect wildlife. Bears do better on berries, not GU Triberry!

4) Teamwork. I grew up playing team sports, including basketball and soccer. F4 offers me the fun and motivation of training with positive people. But running and triathlon are still individual sports, and it is completely up to me to achieve my goals. While working together with the other F4 volunteers to set-up the aid station and get the athletes their drink of choice, I was reminded how much fun it is to accomplish a goal or task as a team.

So, next time you are sidelined by an injury, need an attitude adjustment, want to give back to the sport, or are just looking for some team fun…..volunteer!! You will gain precious data for your next race.

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One response

7 09 2007
jszabo

Thanks Kristie! So, what are you doing September 30th? Boulder Backroads aid station?

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