All of a sudden there was a constant stream of athletes coming through the transition chute. Due to the rain and the fact that they were all wet, the grass and concrete became very slippery. More volunteers positioned themselves to act as catchers as people went down, others yelled out to athletes to slow down and watch their footing. The gear bags were in a new area this year, and even though I can't compare it to what it was, it seemed slightly dangerous. Athletes had to navigate their way around, grass, old wooden boards, concrete and because transition is in the former olympic speed skating oval, they had to worry about stepping over the lip of the track. You can see some of what I mean in the photo below.
|Lots of neon tape to make the athletes more aware.|
|You can sort of make out the small sign|
on the end of the gear bag rack.
After a while there were just a handful of blue bags left hanging and fewer athletes were coming in. We had about twenty minutes left in our shift and lots of new volunteers were coming into the gear bag area. Now our job was to take the 2000+ blue gear bags, all thrown into a HUGE pile, and hang them back on their rightful hook. Randy reminded us that it was super important to get the numbers right so they weren't searching for bags for the athletes after midnight. I must have checked those number labels a million times. The bags were heavy, they had all of the athletes wet swim gear in them and wet because of the rain and puddles they were resting in. A little after 9am Rob, Molly and I made our way over to the merchandise tent and looked around and then headed to get some breakfast. We have a favorite sandwich/creperie deli to go to and as we approached the line was out the door. But it was well worth the wait. I got the Gulf Brook, an amazing breakfast burrito and we all sat on a bench and wolfed down the goodness.
|Taken from the link above.|
|Taken from the link below.|
Last year they had dill pickle popcorn for the first time and I loved it so much I was really hoping they would have it again. Apparently it has become so popular they have made it one of their daily flavors, woohoo!! When I told Molly about the dp popcorn I think I got a disgusted look or at least a shocked one, but when she tasted it she was instantly converted and got some for herself. The owner also recommended mixing the dill pickle with the cheddar and I told her we would be back often and would try that combo too. With popcorn in hand we headed to the bike turn on Main Street to watch the cyclists finish their first loop and head back out on to their second loop.
We noticed a lot of the athletes were eating at this point and we saw everything from bagels, to sandwiches to uncrustables. The athletes were in good spirits and a lot of them encouraged the spectators to cheer louder by yelling or making arm movements. At one point there were three cyclist whizzing by and one female athlete was screaming and not in a good way, it turns out a toddler had somehow gotten under the barrier and was making her way towards the cyclists who were heading downhill (see in the photo above). It could have been a scary situation but luckily a volunteer had heard the scream and ran over to scoop the little girl up and return her to her mom.
Okay small rant break: I know I am not a parent, but exactly how does that happen?!?!?! Plus what made it worse was that the mom didn't even seem thankful or appreciative. She just wrestled the (seemingly) wild and hysterical little girl back into her stroller. Molly said she was practically sitting on her to buckle her in. REALLY?!?! I would have told them to leave. I also saw them a later in the day and the little girl was still being unruly.
After watching for a while and moving to a new spot I was getting tired of standing, here I am complaining about standing, so we decided Rob would swim and Molly and I would find a place to hang and relax for a little while. Molly wound up going to hang with the Towpath crew at their tent and I made my way to the top of the hill by the beach and parked myself there for a new vantage point. It was here that the cyclists were getting their bike special gear bag. Ahhh that explains why they were all eating just a short bit down the road at our previous spectating spot. As cyclists would approach, their numbers were called through a megaphone and volunteers grabbed their bags and assisted the athletes with what ever they needed. Then they would push them off on their way again. I sat there on the curb and loved cheering and calling out numbers as they rode by. Since this was a much less crowded spectating spot, I actually got some smiles, thanks and thumbs up. I also chatted up a woman next to me who turned out to be from Rochester too.
Once Rob finished swimming we decided we would take the shuttle back to his car to unloaded his wetsuit and some stuff from our bags we weren't using. I think we both just wanted a break from the hustle and bustle too. We didn't have to wait long and we enjoyed being chauffeured around town. Once we swapped stuff at the car we got back on the bus and headed into town again.
|The wheels on the bus...|
When we met up with Molly she was standing at the run entrance/exit of transition cheering on runners some of whom were starting their first loop and the pro's who were finishing their race! By this time we were getting hungry again and jumped into a near by pizza shop for halfway decent pizza. After some more spectating and a quick trip into a bar for some free popcorn and adult beverages we decided we would take the shuttle to the car, take the car to get gas and head back to the campground for some relaxation before we came back to cheer the last hour. In hindsight this was probably a bad idea. For a short portion of our drive we were following alongside the run course and so we cheered, and Molly rang her cowbell out the window. We saw lots of tired, weary athletes but they were all still moving.
Once we got back to the campground Molly and I decided to close our eyes, we were exhausted and the day already felt like the longest day ever. At around 9:15 I was awoken by Rob who was also getting ready to take a nap, he had turned off the tv and the lights and was going to bed. Apparently we weren't going to make it back to Placid for the last exciting hour. Molly was passed out and even though I thought I had just fallen asleep I guess I had been out for a while. We all were in agreement that we would go to bed and we didn't wake up until the garbage truck woke us a little after 7am Monday morning.
Overall volunteering at IMLP was an amazing experience and we were already talking about next year and what we would do differently. First: not volunteer at the butt-crack of dawn. We weren't sure how easy or hard it would be to get around town from Wilmington but apparently it is pretty manageable. Second: I think it would be fun to volunteer out on the course. Third: get back to town for the last hour of competition. You can't help but be inspired by the people and their stories and what keeps them moving, for some, up to 17 hours!!!! Soon I'll have a post about the volunteer dinner we attended the day after the race and the rest of our time in Lake Placid.
Have you ever volunteered at a race?
What was your favorite part?