Sunday, June 8, 2014

Raleigh 70.3 Half Ironman June 1, from volunteer perspective

I was an afternoon volunteer course monitor on Hillsborough street, so all the Pros had already finished when I arrived.  There were still plenty of folks on the running loop.  A hellacious 6 plus route up Hillsborough St. and back, twice!  Psychologically, if you are already feeling the burn, when you get to the end of the first circuit, knowing you have to go up that long grinding slope again -- ugh!

But these folks are nothing if not determined.  Most seemed happy to still be moving.  Some loped along, others jogged on and off, and yet others walked.  I wasn't far from the water stop and spraying station up the hill a bit from me.  It was good to be able to relay some good news to these weary folks as they came by. Another good thing they had to look forward to was the downhill return.

One fellow who'd had a bad encounter with another biker had to carry his damaged bike six miles to the transition point.  He was wiped but determined to finish the event (which he did.)  TeamRWB, consisting of  Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, was well represented.  One member carried the American flag.  It's tough enough to carry oneself, but the strain on the arms and shoulders (after an already taxing swim and bike) must have hurt like the dickens! But, these are tough folk. There was a huge delegation of runners from the DC area -- club jerseys testified to affiliation.  One woman came by, looking to be in the older category.  A fellow volunteer said she was in her 70s (age on back of leg).  Indeed!  There were two women in the 70-74 age group who completed the half ironman.  One in 7:11 hours and the other in 9:02.  Like they say down here "Bless their hearts!"  To me, this is an amazing feat.

One couple approached. The male sat on the curb holding his foot  He was on his second loop of the run portion but was having Achilles - calf problems.  They were about 3 to 4 miles from finishing.  He got up and tried walking but it was easy to see he was in agony. Better to stop then to destroy oneself to the extent that months of recovery (or worse) would be required.  I felt badly but was glad to see him take the lift back to the Finish.  His companion carried on to finish. Towards the back of the group, one lady who had not been able to train was struggling through the event.  She was quite concerned about not completing the run within the time limits.  Fortunately, she continued on because she did finish -- just in time.  I saw one fellow, accompanied by a few volunteers, who was also having a tough time.  Since the sweeper PD car was right behind them, I knew it was if-fy. (He later dropped out.)

The water crew up the road had a good time encouraging the lagging runners as they approached and passed.  Dancing and clapping, they buoyed the spirits of those who walked, jogged, and slow ran their way back down to the Finish.

The weather was maybe about 80 degrees in the afternoon.  It was nice to volunteer and cheer on those I knew and those I did not know.  I've no doubt that those who finished felt a great sense of accomplishment and came home with lots of stories.  Perhaps the most welcoming thing for these folks at the end was a cold drink and a cold shower and clean clothes!

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