I never met a volunteer I didn't like.
I love and respect race volunteers. They are a true reflection of the community that hosts the race.
But what if a fictional town like Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon or Rose Nylund's St. Olaf were to host a triathlon? Imagining the kind of athletes who would show up is a lot of fun. Even more fun is dreaming up what kind of volunteers would be there to help the athletes through their day of endurance.
Here's how I think the transcript of the awards portion for the volunteer appreciation dinner would go...
Our first nominee is Debrah Yablonsky.
Debrah was stationed on the bike course at the intersection of Stag Road and the highway. The lead cyclists of the race approached the intersection and cruised right through without incident. Twenty seconds later, Debrah emerged from the port-a-potty and did an outstanding job of directing the remaining cyclists to take a left turn at her intersection. We are still trying to locate the lead group.
Nominee number two is James Roberts, affectionately known as Jim Bob.
Every year Jim's job is to make sure the athlete waivers are filled out properly when each athlete checks in the day before the race. This year Jim's enthusiasm for volunteering was the subject of many conversations.
A dozen or so athletes were waiting in line to have Jim validate their waiver forms while Jim processed the one athlete at the front of the line. He politely corrected the athlete saying that a local phone number needed to be written in the appropriate space on the form. The athlete rudely refused and indicated that his phone number had already been written down in the contact information section of the form. Jim, calmly explained why the number needed to be written again in the other section, but the athlete again rudely refused, this time using very colorful language.
Maybe it was because Jim was an inch from the athlete's face when he loudly threatened to disembowel him if he didn't write his phone number in the correct section. Or maybe it was when Jim punched and split the table in two during his tirade. Whatever it was, that athlete and all others in the room at the time turned in perfect waiver forms.
Our last nominee is one of the nicest people I know, Phil Driscol.
What Phil lacks in common sense, he makes up for in personality (wait for laughter). As you know, triathlon is a complicated sport which it takes a little while to master. Although Phil was a first time volunteer on the run course, he confidently picked up two paper cups from the table and shouted at the athletes, "Water or Gatorade?".
The first comments about Phil's enthusiasm came in quite early. Instead of handing the cups of water or Gatorade to the athletes, he was showering the athletes with the contents. Apparently, he thought he was working at a cooling station, not a hydration station. The other volunteers were laughing so hard, Phil had doused at least 10 athletes before they could correct him.
That's enough imagination for one blog post!
In reality, I thank as many volunteers as I can. I hope you do too.
By the way... If you are wondering who won the award then please feel free to dip into your own imagination.
Until next time...