Friday, June 6, 2008

Volunteering at the Vancouver BG Triathlon World Championships

I woke up at 4 am for my 5:45 shift as a course marshal for the sprint distance races of the Vancouver BG Triathlon World Championships. The weather was miserable. It was 8 degrees Celsius and raining.

I was stationed in Stanley Park near the bottom of the hill leading to Prospect Point. This is the same hill I ran as part of the BMO Vancouver Half Marathon. The triathletes had to climb this hill 3 times as part of the bike leg of the race.

My job was to control pedestrian access to the bike course. This wasn't much of a task. We were in the remotest portion of the race course in Stanley Park which, for the most part, was closed to all traffic. Let's just say I didn't see many pedestrians during the 4 hours I stood in the rain holding up my red "don't cross" flag. Actually the first one I saw was a trail runner that came from behind me and I didn't see him as he darted across the course as bikes whizzed by. I guess I wasn't a great course marshal.

The most unexpected event of the day was when a fireman asked me to move some pylons so they could turn their truck around. He said that someone had jumped off the Lions Gate Bridge and they were trying to get down to the sea wall. I later heard that witnesses said a car stopped mid-span and a guy simply got out of the car and jumped. He died. I watched the news but there was no report of the incident.

The athletes were obviously suffering from the affects of the cold. I found out on the news that hypothermia was a common problem.

A few of them talked to me as they passed. These were mainly the back-of-the-pack racers who thanked me for being there, or blamed me for putting a hill in front of them, or to tell me that they were on their last lap and that I wouldn't see them anymore. I enjoyed it when they interacted with me. I have to remember to try and talk to the volunteers more next time I run a race.

All in all, I didn't mind getting out there and helping but I sure hope it's warmer and drier for my next shift on Sunday.

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