All of the athletes at the ITU World Championships...at ANY race...owe their race day to the volunteers. Without them the race could not happen. We'd be hungry, thirsty, rule-breaking, disorganized, and dangerous!
This post was inspired by one particular group of volunteers at the ITU World Championship that really stood out to me, and those were the crossing guards. They were responsible for making sure that pedestrians safely crossed the multiple lanes of cyclist and runner traffic without interfering in any way with the race of a runner or cyclist.
The main drag of the race was S. Columbus Drive, which paralleled the lake, and which stood between ALL of the hotels and ALL of the places we wanted to go: transition, expo, swim start, and the finish line. We walked back and forth across that busy race course many, many times.
South Columbus is very wide. V-E-R-Y wide.
It accommodated two lanes of bike racers, coming and going, and two lanes of runners, coming and going. I wish I could find a nice overhead photo of the race happening on it. I made my own instead:
It was basically Frogger with bikes and runners.
The entire course was lined with barricades with just a few areas for crossing. At these designated points, we'd queue up and wait to be released to cross the road in multiple stages, with tiny "holding pens" and crossing guards stationed part-way across. If you waited until it was clear both ways of bikes and runners, well you'd be waiting a LONG time. Till maybe Sunday.
It could get a little tense as they'd release a few of us at a time, or make way for athletes late to transition with bikes, and they'd yell reminders for us to HURRY across. It got a little scary sometimes, but I never saw an incident or a racer in jeopardy.
They basically played verbal Frogger, with dozens of frogs that were not all good listeners. A moment of inattentiveness could have cost an athlete their race, or worse. It could have been a disaster.
Temporary elevated walkways would have been nice, but in the absence of that option, the volunteer crossing guards did a great job. I wish I would have said thank you to all of them, and I hope I said thank you to at least a few. They had a tense job holding back triathletes who are not among the most patient people in the universe!
Thank you volunteer crossing guards, volunteer aid station workers, chip removers, transition checkers, helpers-up-the swim ladder, and lifeguards. Thank you registration workers, goody bag distributors, and body markers. Thank you ITU officials (most were volunteers), moto drivers, and those in countless volunteer roles that I probably don't even know exist but that I depend on.