Sunday, 26 August 2012

Mont Tremblant Ironman Volunteer - Race Day

Sunday I was slow getting started.  Most volunteers were up at 4am.  Anyone with a morning assignment had to hurry off.  I was able to take my time.  I spent the night with other volunteers on the floor of a classroom at the local high school in St Jovite.  A light breakfast was provided, and we took the city bus for a 20-minute ride to the resort.  Busses were free of charge for everyone all day.

The collection of shops in the center of the ski resort is known as the pedestrian village.  It is anchored by the clock tower.  Above and around the shops are hotels. That's the buildings you see in most of the photos of the resort.  Being hotels, you don't generally get a kitchen, so you are eating at restaurants.  The condos are all further from the action.  They are larger and let you do your own cooking in their kitchen.  Kitchenware is all provided.  The place known as the "old village" is the suburb of the Municipality of Mont Tremblant located 3 km to the west of  the resort, on Lac Mercier.  The run course goes from the resort's pedestrian village to the old village, where the P'tit Train du Nord trail is picked up.  About 10 km to the south is Centreville of the municipality, also known as Saint-Jovite.  The bike course goes through downtown St-Jovite.  They were amalgamated back in 2000 to become the single municipality of Mont Tremblant.

My plan was to hike a short ways up the ski hill and videotape the Snowbirds flyby.  I didn't make it for that.  I was still on the bus when I heard the jet.  It wasn't the Snowbirds either.  It was a single CF-18 fighter plane doing the flyby.  Still on the bus when the cannon went off.  Up the hill I went.  The lake was too far away to see the swimmers at all.  I could barely make out some water turbulence.  You could only tell exactly where they were by the flotilla of support boats.  When they passed turn-around, the course took them along the near shore, and they were entirely obscured by the trees.
The swim underway
I had 4 hours to kill before my assignment began, so I wandered the area.  I went to the shore at swim exit.  Wetsuit peeling looked like a fun assignment.  Swim cutoff was 9:20am.  By 9:10 there was still a dozen or so out in the water.  Cheers and general encouragement were really ramped up for the last few to make it.  I love that about Ironman.  The last ones to arrive get the most glory.  We all feel really happy for them to make it.  It was announced that if the swimmer could stand up near shore, it would be classed as within cutoff, even if they hadn't reached the timing mat.  Since the route is near the northeastern shore, it's shallow for a couple hundred metres.  The kayakers had a guy stand up way out there, but it was deemed insufficient.  When he finally made it to the beach, he was out and had his timing chip taken away.  I think there were 3 of them who didn't make cutoff.

Coming out of T1 change tent, athletes had their helmets on.  Helmets weren't kept at the bike like other triathlons.  I'm tempted to change into my bib shorts.  With my tri suit I don't need to change at all, but nothings as comfy as the bibs.  I could run in them after, or change into running shorts at T2.  I've done some long rides in the tri suit, and it gets hot in the sun.  

Special needs looked like a fun job.  When a cyclist arrived, a volunteer with a megaphone called out the number.  Runners then hurried to fetch the bag for that athlete.  It would be busy and exciting.
Special Needs Pickup - Bike
My afternoon assignment was working a crosswalk in the resort plaza (the pedestrian village).  It was busy.  The run path bisected the resort, so there were lots of people wanting to cross.  Sometimes there would be a couple minutes waiting for a sufficient gap between runners, in which time a couple dozen people would be lined up to cross.  They would sometimes barely clear the lane before the next runner arrived.  Each runner passed through the pedestrian village twice.  The fork where they were routed back for the second loop was right near the finish.

Here's another cool job -- runner escort.  Cyclists had a motorbike escorting the leader.  On the run, there were bikes leading out the top five runners of each gender. 
3rd-place escort awating the runner
My evening assignment was less of a chore.  I was at the crosswalk directly in front of the church.  In the morning, this lane was the run path from swim exit to T1.  In the evening, it was the arrival back to the pedestrian village for the runners.  Hardly anyone wanted to cross the road here, so it was simply a cheering station.  

My crosswalk for the evening
Around maybe 7pm a storm cloud passed and it poured rain for about 20 minutes.  There was a lovely rainbow up over the pedestrian village towards the end.  This left the runners soaked and cold.  I had the foresight to bring my waterproof jacket.  Staying warm and dry helped me maintain the energy to welcome everyone back to the village with cheers, fist pumps, and the occasional jumping up and down.  When I first arrived, there was a girl doing the cheerleading, and she had much enthusiasm and a seemingly unending supply of witty remarks of encouragement. When she left, I felt I needed to at least try to leave a similar positive impression on everyone. For first-loop runners, I promised to be there when they came back again, and I was.  I stayed past midnight, to see the last one in.  He had a bicycle escort also, and a flock of angels to carry him home (girls with angel wings tied to their backs).  As with the last few out of the water, the crowd was just wild for the last runners.  I could hear them across the lawn at the finish.

Sunday evening, a rumour flashed through the volunteer ranks that the athletes who didn't register on Saturday for the 2013 race were intending to come en masse to Monday's registration.  Theories were that they hadn't know about the Saturday registration, or that they had waited to see what the course was like.  This led to many of us arriving an hour early Monday before the 9am opening of registration for volunteers.  About a hundred of us packed the hallway in the Congress Centre.  One of the volunteer captains came and told us all to chill out.  We could see that obviously that we weren't about to sell out 2013, so no one had to worry about getting a spot.  Although Monday was officially for volunteers only, they let the athletes register also, but after the volunteers.  All others were told to take a hike.  They weren't taking registrations for the general public.  I was giddy with delight and babbled at the volunteer doing my registration.  There were no card readers, no receipts.  She just typed it into the computer.  My credit card was initially rejected, but she retyped the name, and it went through.  They should just give us an access code to let us register online ourselves, and have a few days reserved for volunteers and returning athletes.

No comments:

Post a Comment