Thanksgiving turkey trots are fast becoming the most popular race in the US with a never-before record of 901,753 finishers in 2015. It’s a happy holiday event with friends and families bonding together at the starting line before gathering around the table to share the traditional turkey, potatoes, cranberries and pie. Most of these races are for charitable causes and bring in a lot of holiday cheer.
But without volunteers, these hundreds of races, including triathlons, would not be possible. This is not an exaggeration if you take into account the fact that the majority of people helping out behind the scenes at triathlons are not paid. In fact, most racing events would be just too expensive without them.
Taking some time off to step into a volunteer’s shoes this Thanksgiving does not just benefit organizers. There’s a lot more to gain from the experience than you might think.
Thank your community
There are countless volunteers who work tirelessly at every stage of the race – from pre-race registrations to post-race handing out of water and food to athletes. And can you forget those who point out the direction you need to be running? Being a volunteer yourself is a good way to say a big “thank you” to diligent volunteers, especially because this may not be possible when you’re actually participating in a triathlon.
Learn the ropes
If you are planning to start your triathlon career, being a volunteer is a great way to see how things work. There are lots of things to learn, and you’ll pick up many lessons from the triathletes themselves through good old-fashioned observation.
Let’s be honest – your motivation levels can drop. You may not always feel like hopping onto your cycle or taking a morning run. There may be other worries weighing you down. Volunteering is a good way to drown out your own problems while you focus on other athletes. You’re sure to experience a renewed sense of passion for your own training.
Bring back happy memories
If you’re someone who has hung up their running or cycling shoes, then being a volunteer is an ideal way to keep in touch with the spirit of the sport and bring back your own happy memories. Triathlons are not just about your body – your spirit too needs a lift and what better way than to give back to the sport you love!
Recharge during down time
If you are taking time off from your racing schedule, then volunteering helps you get inspired – watching the eager faces of triathletes at the starting line, crossing milestones and finally, their exhausted yet enthralled faces at the finish line. If you are already a few triathlons old, but haven’t volunteered in one, think of it as a great way to open your eyes to the many hands that make a triathlon happen.
Bond with family and friends
Instead of just going to watch a loved one participate in a triathlon, try volunteering. It’s a good way to soak in the race atmosphere and keep boredom at bay. If you play an instrument, you could even volunteer to play for triathletes. There’s something to do for everyone, and it’s a good way to encourage and bond with family members this holiday season.
If these reasons aren’t enough to convince you, here’s something that might: An average Thanksgiving meal can be anywhere between 2,500 and 4,500 calories. Volunteering may not be sufficient effort to burn off even a fraction of those, but it will definitely help you burn off any conscience pangs you might experience.
What are you waiting for? Go earn your pumpkin pie!