Recently I had the privilege to volunteer to help physically challenged athletes at the 70.3 World Championships in Las Vegas; it was truly an amazing experience.
My good friend Mike who is the founder of Getting2Tri, an organization that helps challenged athletes participate in events through clinics, training, support, and education, headed up the volunteers for the PC athletes.
You can read all about them at www.getting2tri.org.
Each of the volunteers was assigned to an athlete that they were responsible for helping throughout the day. Nancy and I were assigned a single leg below the knee amputee named Karen, she told us what she would need throughout the day and we were there to help her in any way we could. Karen actually qualified for this race in the age group category NOT the physically challenged; she is an amazing athlete and person! She was so calm race morning with only a few concerns, I had to laugh at my race morning jitters which seem silly in comparison to hers. A challenged athlete has to worry about who will be there to help them into the water, who will help them out of the water, who will help them get off the bike, and who will have their prosthetic limb/s or chair at the end of the race and many more concerns. These are important things to be concerned about when racing, my silly race morning jitters seem meaningless after seeing what she has to go through!
For her that day there was no need to worry because Nancy, Mike and I had it all covered, we eagerly watched for her to come out of the water. We were all on edge waiting for her as any one of the white caps out on the swim course could be her! She made it to the swim exit and we carried her to her prosthetic leg that she would use to ride the bike. The long walk to transition area seemed forever. We got her into the tent and got her transition bag and she was off for the hilly ride. After seeing her safely out of T1, we made our way over to T2 at the Henderson events center and waited for her to come in so we could help her transition into her running prosthetic leg. The transition from her riding prosthetic to her running prosthetic was uneventful and soon she was out onto the very challenging running course. The run course was made up of 3 laps so we were able to see her often and cheer her on. In the end she finished in 8hrs and 11minutes.
All of the PC athletes were amazing, one truly gets a sense of the drive and determination of these amazing athletes - there was an amazing guy who was a double amputee, who had no right arm and only half a left arm. You can see a picture of him in my post; he wanted to do everything on his own, truly amazing!! I am not sure how he does it, many able bodied people would not be able to do a 70.3 with BOTH ARMS!!
The ITU World Championship for long course will be in Las Vegas on November 5th. We will be looking for PC volunteers for this race so if you are interested in volunteering please contact be. It will truly be a life changing experience!
Here is a volunteer video from the 70.3 World Championships. You can see me and a few other PC volunteers at about 2 minutes 17 seconds into the video.
|Nancy, Karen, and I at swim start|