Season Planning - Including Volunteering

a volunteer at a triathlon
January 30, 2017

Dave Sheanin



As you plan your race calendar for 2013, I'd like to encourage you to consider adding at least one additional race to your schedule. Specifically, I recommend volunteering at least once this season. There are numerous compelling reasons to volunteer at a local triathlon beyond the economic benefits some race directors offer, such as a free entry into another race. Volunteering provides a sense of fulfillment and fosters a stronger multisport community, as races rely heavily on volunteers to run smoothly.

However, beyond these benefits, volunteering can offer valuable insights into racing that you may not gain as a participant. Recently, I volunteered at a race and was stationed at a busy intersection on the bike course. Here are some key takeaways from my experience:

1. **Know the Course:** It's crucial for participants to familiarize themselves with the race course. Not only does this prevent athletes from accidentally veering off course, but it also enhances safety for everyone involved. During the race, we encountered a situation where a seasoned athlete missed a turn despite clear signage and verbal instructions from volunteers, highlighting the importance of course knowledge.

2. **Don't Solely Rely on Volunteers:** While volunteers play a vital role in ensuring race safety, athletes should not solely rely on them. Racers must remain vigilant and aware of their surroundings at all times. In one instance, a driver disregarded volunteer instructions and dangerously maneuvered around a traffic stop, posing a risk to racers and volunteers alike.

3. **Be Self-Sufficient:** Athletes should be equipped to handle basic mechanical issues, such as dropped chains or flat tires, without relying on outside assistance. Not only does this adhere to race regulations, but it also prevents disruptions during the race.

4. **Understand Race Rules:** It's essential for all participants, regardless of experience level, to understand and adhere to race rules. Violating rules or exhibiting unpredictable behavior can lead to dangerous situations on the course. Familiarize yourself with the rulebook to ensure compliance with race regulations.

5. **Be Mindful of Other Cyclists:** During the race, be aware that non-racing cyclists may share the course. Understanding the dynamics between racers and non-racers can prevent potential collisions and ensure a safe racing environment for all.

Volunteering at a race provides valuable insights into racing dynamics and fosters a deeper appreciation for the sport. By experiencing racing from a different perspective, you can become a better and safer triathlete. Consider volunteering at a race this season to contribute to the multisport community and enhance your racing knowledge.

Coach Dave, a USAT Coach, dedicates countless hours to volunteering for the betterment of the multisport community.

Coach Dave Sheanin is an advocate for aligning triathletes with their race goals. He believes that becoming “triathlon literate” is key to meeting your goals. Triathlon is indeed a lifestyle and like the other important areas of your life, knowledge is power. He encourages you to explore the nuances of the sport, be open to new ideas and ask questions – of yourself, of fellow swimmers, cyclists and runners, and of your coach.  

Coach Dave is a USA Triathlon and Training Peaks Certified Coach.  Coach Dave was honored by USA Triathlon with the Community Impact Award.

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