4-0-300 Blog 050
Waiting for my race photos to come for the Spartan Sprint on Saturday, I wanted to get something up about my experience volunteering on Sunday during the Super.
Now I volunteered at the 2015 Calgary race, in the review I wrote I focused on the positive as much as possible so the negative didn’t come through. I had to wait for 2 hours to use the washroom, had very poor communication for tasks and expectations, was kept much later than promised with my free race being dangled over my head, so while the experience watching and motivating the racers would make me volunteer again I didn’t enjoy the overall experience enough to want to help out again last year. With the change in race organizers (Talked about Spartan HQ taking over in my Red Deer Race Review) I thought I would take a chance, plus the allure of earning a free race for next year still really helped out.
This year was a 100% positive experience and change for the better. I arrived early checked in with the Volunteer coordinator, grab my red shirt as well as lunch and headed over to the group of volunteers you were already there. Unlike 2015 where almost everyone there were from volunteer organizations this year it was mostly all Spartans. For about 20-30 we Spartan-geeked out talking about our race the day before, previous races this year/last year, favorite obstacles, techniques, time goals, favorite elite racers and more random Spartan details. It was so much fun, even down to talking about cool it was that Johnny Waite from the Spartan Up! Podcast was the race director. After a quick pump-up/thank you speech from Dr. Johnny (something that was missing in 2015) we were broken up into smaller groups or “zones” each with their own leader. Again, this was a massive change from before as we knew who to call directly for anything and they were focus on a small part of the race as opposed to one leader who was running overseeing the whole course before, which makes it easier from them to check on each person and obstacle. Apparently at the Sprint they had a surplus of volunteers something we didn’t have for the Super so everyone knew we had to step their game up and do the work of multiple people, as an example I was doing the Stairway to Sparta solo while they had 3 people there Saturday. I was lucky to be assigned to an obstacle as I almost was doing bag check which while very important would have been a little disappointing since I wanted to see the course.
Getting out to the obstacles our Zone leader asked us multiple times if we were comfortable in our roles, our understanding of our obstacle, burpees for the non-mandatory obstacles, and if we had everything we needed for the day (again something that was lacking in 2015). I had the best spot on the course nice and elevated I could see a ton of other obstacles, racers all over the course, and a great view.
One thing that was similar to two years was awesome watching all the racers was. The elites are amazing, the men and women just flew around the course, but they still take a second to thank you for volunteering and being there. The competitive heat racers show how high the level of this sport is getting considering they aren’t really a step down from the elite, goal for next year. But as always, the open class makes your day. Cheering them on and motivating them to get up the steep hill and over a mentally daunting obstacle feels great. There were so many high fives/fist bumps from appreciative racers, even a couple of hugs (good thing I was a good distance from the muddy barbed wire crawl) and a butt tap from one guy, although the start line announcer does tell open class racers to do it, I still wasn’t expecting it. Everyone was in a good mood right down to the last racer, who had just finished the Hurricane Heat the night before after doing the Sprint during the day, so was understandably just wanting to take their time. Stairway to Sparta is fun to watch with all the teamwork and mental resiliency to overcome an obstacle that is more mental than physical, it was a great spot to be all day.
Our zone leader came over to check a couple of times throughout the day, again checking water/food levels but more importantly making sure we were still having a good time another change from last time. Also before the last racers even made it to me I already had someone come tell me what I needed to do after they passed, how far away they were and about how much longer we would be there. We had help from the zone leaders doing course teardown, we went over to other sections to help out other volunteers who all seemed to have a great time too another shift from 2015.
This was such a night and day different experience from the last volunteer shift where only the racers were a highlight for me, yesterday was a day I’ll remember for along for all good reasons. Now I’m actually excited to volunteer again next year.
I am a proud father & husband. A former semi-pro skier, turned rugby 7’s player, I’ve now worked to become a OCR racer.
A level 2 NCCP certified coach, I also hold coaching certifications in 3 sports.