Wednesday, July 25, 2012

VOLUNTEER REPORT: Ironman Lake Placid

This past Sunday was Ironman Lake Placid and a number of members from my tri club went up, most to compete and a few more to volunteer.  I went to volunteer in order to register for next year and man was it an experience!  Here's a quick recap...

Once I discovered that registration wasn't until Monday morning, I opted for an afternoon volunteer slot so I didn't have to be up mad early.  I got to Lake Placid around 10:00am.  I went straight to transition and snapped a photo of the empty finisher's chute.  Scroll down to see the "after" photo of the finisher's chute at midnight.

Empty Finsher's Chute

Then I spent a few hours on the "hot corner" of the bike watching the athletes finish their first 56-mile loop. 

Andy Potts finishing his second loop
This is Andy Potts crushing the competition.  Potts was roughly 5-6 minutes ahead on his first loop and increased that to 11 minutes on his second loop.  No one could touch him Sunday; fastest swim, bike, AND run legs.

I got to see a lot of my friends come through their first lap.  Did they hear me screaming, who knows!  But I got them on the run course for sure! 

I then headed out to Run Aid Station #3 for my shift.  I have to say that it was so much more fun than I expected.  As an athlete, it's much easier to do a job knowing that it's appreciated.  You could tell that we didn't have as many volunteers as they needed, but we worked our butts off and made the best of it. 

Aid Station #3
I also got to see all my friends come through.  Plenty of cheering went on.  The only thing I was surprised about was that we did not have ice to hand out.  Really?  I usually consider that a staple, but oh-well. 

The low point of the day was having an athlete come into our station and ask "Is there some place I can lie down?"  I knew immediately by the look in her face that she was near the end.  She said she was getting dizzy and her feet had been asleep for 2 miles.  She was completely with it, but her body was giving in.  We layed her down and another volunteer who was a PTA sat with her until Medical came to pick her up.  They gave her a blanket, an oxygen mask, and consoled her as much as possible while she cried saying "I just don't want my day to be over."  She knew she wouldn't make the cut off time since she was still on her first run loop, but it was heart-breaking all the same.  

I worked 2:30 to 8:30 and then headed back to transition.  It was 10:00 by the time I got there and I was already falling asleep on my sore feet.  I got some food at the volunteer tent and spent an hour "resting" on my chair.  Then I met up with Lisa, a member of my tri club who also volunteered, and we watched the last hour of athletes coming in. 

Finish Line at 10:30pm

Finish Line at midnight

The jumbotron
They always say that the last hour is more exciting than the first; they're right.  Every person coming in was beyond ecstatic to finish.  Some found friends/family on the sidelines and hugged/kissed them.  Some were tearing up.  Others gave it a kick that made it look like they were still fresh. 

Then with about ten minutes left, Mike Reilly started walking up the finish line...

Ironman Announcer Mike Reilly looking for more athletes coming in

You could tell he was trying to figure out whether the last few athletes would make it in or not.  Then with two minutes left, Andy Potts goes running back out of the finish.  "Where is he going?" we all thought.  Mike told us that the last athlete was a quarter mile out.  We looked at the timer and thought "this is gonna' be close."  Well, he didn't make the cut-off, but got the best escort into the finish of the day...

Sorry about the blur, but the guy was literally dragged/carried all the way to the finish line with Andy Potts (in grey on the right) cheering him on the whole way!  Sure, he didn't make it in under the 17-hour limit, but in my mind (and plenty of others I'm sure), he still finished. 

Then the real party began!

Volunteer Registration.

Lisa and I (and about 20-30 others) walked around the Lake Placid High School and got in line at the gymnasium to register for next year's race.  Now, registration was not slatted to begin until 9am.  So we all brought our chairs, sleeping bags, and such and spent the night.

Volunteer line for 2013 Lake Placid Registration

Aren't we a bunch of crazy people!  We had an Ironman Staff member come by "brief" us on how things would go.  Apparently we even had the Race Director come by and tell us to come back in the morning because he would never turn down volunteers for registration.  I was already asleep by then, but no one left. 

I fell asleep for 30-60 minutes at a time off & on all night.  It was not what you'd call a comfortable evening.  Around 6:30am, I got up and decided to walk around and attempt stretching out.  I quickly discovered that the registration line had extended from the gym, to the street, and down to the 'hot corner" already; 0.2 miles of people ready to pay for a race one full year away.  ...and people were still arriving to get in line. 

Registration Line at 6:30am

Thankfully, they opened up at 7:40 and it was very quick.  I was out, back to my car, and on the road by 8am.  I was very happy since I had a 5 hour drive home and work at 2pm.  If they had waited until 9am, I would have been cutting it V-E-R-Y close to not making it.  Phew!

So now I am registered for two full Ironman distance races before finishing ONE.  Smart?, maybe not but oh-well.

A friend also found a great video summarizing the volunteer registration process, but this lady was a slacker 'cause she didn't get in line at midnight.  haha


1.  Do you volunteer for races?
Both for the opportunity to give back as well as the experience from the opposite side, you should.

2.  When is the last time you got in line at midnight for anything?!
Christmas shopping maybe?  The twilight movies?  

Swim fast.  Bike smart.  Run hard. 


Jill said...

Wow, congrats! That is so exciting. I am planning on volunteering this summer at a couple races. Looking forward to it!

Suz and Allan said...

That's a crazy line to wait in for registration! Is the Road ID stuff still on its way to me?

Ara said...

I got chills reading this post. Every time I read a post about an Ironman race, it makes me excited to eventually do one myself. I think that is just AWESOME that Andy Potts went out to help the last person over the finish line. It breaks my heart that he didn't make the cut off. I've never volunteered for a race, but I've been on the sidelines of some that I was supposed to run in, but didn't because of injury. I'm thinking of signing up to volunteer at IMCdA next year.

Gashsam said...

Ok, where have you gone????
25 July last entry and now gone.

Come back to us!!!!! Missun your posts, insights, inspiration, advice and good reading!

Tribulus terrestris said...

It is so much fun to volunteer in an Ironman race. It is indeed a wonderful way to support the sport and the sportsmen.


pay per head bookmaking said...

It looks like a nice race. Specially that It ended at night. It is the best moment to end a race (actually in my opinion)