Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sweat, Wet And Tired (Ragnar SWAT)

Volunteers are what makes successful races work.  I always try and thank volunteers when I snatch the water cup from them at races but I personally have not done enough volunteering.  Once to be exact.  Saturday's 14 hour volunteering stint should start to even the scales in my volunteering deficiency.

3 of my awesome volunteers got into the Ragnar mood quickly with their tattoos
As many of you know, I'm a Ragnarite and love Ragnar. (Check out the new page in my blog).  Ragnar Del Sol was this weekend and I had the fantastic opportunity of being a SWAT volunteer.  SWAT stands for Sweat,  Wet and Tired. A SWAT volunteer is a hard core volunteer that oversees a major exchange.  They are involved with the set up, tear down, directing volunteers, answering questions and walking around all day long.   As a SWAT member I also get a couple perks, which is why I wanted to be a SWAT volunteer as compared to a regular volunteer.  As a SWAT volunteer I get $50 of credit for the RAGNAR store, a cool t-shirt and a free entry into another RAGNAR race.  SWEET!
Traffic control
Luckily I SWAT'd with Denyse and we met in Phoenix at 6:15am and drove out together to Tonapah to a dirt patch in the middle of the desert which would be our exchange.  The exchange had been moved from one dirt lot to another earlier in the week due to the extensive stickers bushes.  I'd hate to see what the first lot looked like because this new location seemed just as bad.  The truck with all the equipment was already there and we began the processing of setting up and moving the tents multiple times until the site flowed...or as well as it can flow with sticker bushes everywhere.
Denyse checking in volunteers
The volunteers were awesome and worked hard.  They jumped in and got to work setting up the site.  We assigned 3 guys to scope out parking and be the parking attendants.  Directing traffic was probably the most trying task at the exchange.  Luckily traffic was two lanes in/out from the main street but the parking itself was one way.  The continually had to stop cars to allow traffic to come out.  The other challenge was the port-a-potties were about 10 feet off our makeshift road and waiting in the port-a-potty line required standing in the road.
Me and Rae and our (ugly) fluffy tutus. (I have wig envy...Rae's wig was prettier than mine)
A couple times I relieve Rae who was announcing runners at the chute but never felt comfortable with that.  Rae is much more fun that me and has a natural flair for joking and playing with the runners. Most of the time I  was running around but I did get a 5 minute rest to sit down when I relieved the spotter (200 yards out from the chute) and had an opportunity to sit.  Ahhh.

Thoughts on SWAT

  • Fantastic opportunity to get an inkling of what goes on behind the scenes.
  • Guys are stronger with directing traffic and parking.
  • Wearing a bright colored wig makes it easy to find you.
  • In a world of business where everyone has to be efficient, it's ok if volunteers hang out doing nothing and chat.
  • Keep your volunteers till the end because there is still lots of stuff to take down and put away after the last runner has gone through.
  • Get in contact with the exchange during the last shift to learn when the last runner is through.
  • Use Ragnar command central to let them know what's going on (arriving/last runner/concerns)

It's great seeing the teams and runners. Here are a couple pics.

Happy Running!


Anonymous said...

Wow, what an experience! Thanks for sharing about the workings of volunteering. I put that kind of stuff off too, but I'm trying to be more involved lately as can be so rewarding. And hey, you got a sweet deal for volunteering too! I imagine they have a nice store with lots of good running gear. :)

Anonymous said...

I volunteer a few times a year, but never at a Ragnar event before...sounds like a tiring but rewarding experience. And they give you some pretty good pay back for being a SWAT volunteer too! Nicely done!

LookingUpAgain said...

That looks like a ton of fun :) I need to be a volunteer this summer. Thanks for inspiring me!

Adrienne said...

You are a rockstar for doing SWAT. Now go sleep for 3 days.

Jamoosh said...

Volunteers rock. So yes, you rock!

Giorgio said...

Beautiful report about the workings of volunteering! Good idea :)

Johann said...

I love it that you worked as a volunteer. I've done so myself a few times and although it is hard work I think all runners should do so at least once. The Ragnar events look very exciting.

lindsay said...

Those are amazing perks!! So worth volunteering :) love the runner costumes! Funky wigs for volunteers is a good idea for any race.

Adam said...

AWESOME! I have heard really good things about this race so far from the people who ran it. I'm sure that they were loving that you were there!!

Black Knight said...

That looks a funny thing.
Great pictures!