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How to achieve the full race experience? Volunteer!



As triathletes, many of us focus on the swim, bike, run, transition and nutrition. If you want to gain the full triathlon experience, however, I suggest volunteering at a race, whether it be a local race or a major international event. This “behind the scenes” look enables participants to appreciate their race day experience even more when they are racing, while showing gratitude for the ability to participate in the sport we love. Additionally, many races are charity races, and therefore the more people they are required to hire, the less money gets donated to the charity they are supporting.


Over the course of my time competing in triathlons, I have volunteered at full Ironman races with Kona qualifying spots to local kids races with only 50 competitors, and have enjoyed it every time. The satisfaction of giving back to the multisport community and helping someone else compete has been a great experience and allowed me to grow as an athlete. As a bonus, my wife and kids have joined me volunteering, and teaching our kids the benefit of giving back to the community has helped them grow to be generous individuals.


How to get involved

There are opportunities to volunteer at swim, bike and run events throughout the United States. The easiest way to find them is to look on the race website and look for the volunteer tab. At many races, you can choose your assignment (timing, medical, aid stations, etc.) and the shift that you are available to work. If the event you are looking to volunteer for does not have a volunteer tab, you could contact the Race Director or a general email and find out how to help out.

Another way to learn about volunteer opportunities is to contact your local clubs (swim, bike, run and triathlon) to see how you can be of service to them. Swim teams always need volunteers to run their events, including officials, announcers, and timers to name a few positions. Additionally, other clubs typically have leaders who are in contact with event organizers and can match individuals to much needed positions to ensure a successful event for all involved.  


Can’t make it on race day?

Volunteer positions are typically needed prior to the event date if you are not available on race day. Individuals are needed for things like: packet pick-up, transition set-up, expo runner, etc. These positions are typically available in the days leading up to events, which allows even those who are racing the added bonus of supporting the race that you are competing in.


Typical Triathlon Volunteer Jobs:

  • General information

  • Packet pick-up & registration

  • Pre-race transition check-in

  • Water safety personnel

  • Course marshalls (are you going in the right direction)

  • Transition staff

  • Timing

  • Body marking

  • Refreshments/aid stations

  • Medical staff


While we are using triathlons as an example here, all types of endurance events need volunteers – from swim events and century rides, to running races and obstacle course races. To learn more about the benefits of volunteering at races, contact Coach John at john@axescoaching.com.


Follow @coach_rhodie

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