As we all know, an OCR race cannot take place without their volunteers. Over the last couple of years, I have been a volunteer at different organizations and I really enjoyed it. I’ve been a volunteer for Spartan in England (Windsor) and in The Netherlands (IJmuiden). I’ll tell you about my experiences with these venues and why you should be a volunteer too.
Let’s just start with the thing that everybody wants to know. What will I get for my time (except the experience)? One thing that you always earn is a free ticket for an (open wave) race for each day you volunteer, a volunteer t-shirt and lunch. When I was volunteering at IJmuiden I signed up for three days. Friday, Saturday (after my own race) and Sunday. Because I signed up for so many days, they arranged a hotel room where I could stay and paid for lunch and dinner. Sidenote to the lunch: It’s just an easy ‘most people will eat this’ lunch. So if you have a special diet, take your own lunch. Always take something to drink or eat with you. You’ll get a lunch, but if your tall and need more food, or the weather is very warm, or you are really active, it’s nice to have something extra with you!
When you volunteer in England, you get to choose a 8 hour shift and depending on the shift you get a different ‘goodiebag’. Everyone gets the goodie bag with the regular perks (Fastpass, a volunteer t-shirt, food, race pass) and also a venue t-shirt and free camping. If you take the evening shift you get a beanie. If you sign up for a full day shift (06:00-20:00) you also get a KitBrix, volunteer hoodie and volunteer patch. And if you do a whole shift during the Beast (06:00-21:00) they even throw in a DryRobe! So, if you’re thinking about volunteering, go to England!
Ow, and I forgot! In Andorra, if you volunteered at the Ultra Beast, you got a special Ultra Volunteer hoodie!
Which day to help?
So, there are a few days/things where you can help: With the build-up, on race day, with the takedown.
Most of the times the Thursday and Friday before race weekend are used to get the location ready. In Ijmuiden I got there on Friday, so most of the obstacles were already in place. We got to help set out the ribbons for the kids run. Mapping out a course, making sure the kids wouldn’t get lost. It was fun! After that, we got to make sure the finish location was ready and unfortunately had to change a lot last minute because of the weather and the fire departments objections to the tents because of the bad weather/the storm.
On Sunday we had to take down the entire course and festival area. After packing up the whole merchandise tent a whole lot of dragging stuff happened. What a workout! One full day of dragging (heavy) stuff and cleaning up. I’m just ‘lucky’ I have hayfever, so I didn’t have to clean up all of the hay bales.
Race Day: Choosing a (helping) zone
At Spartan you don’t get to pick a location/zone where you will help (except if you know the organization very well). So it is possible that you get to help on course at an obstacle, will stand at the bag check or hand out medals at the finish line. In Windsor, you just got split up with a zone leader and (s)he dropped you at a location. But don’t worry, you’re surrounded by fellow Spartans so you will have a good time anywhere.
Race Day: Feeling Good
In Windsor Hanno and I got dropped along the course. At the 5” walls to be specific. This was actually a great obstacle because a lot of people (in the open wave) have trouble getting over a wall. So at the end of our shift (we did an AM shift) I had climbed those wall so many times and helped so many people get over. Either with my physical help or verbal help. The feeling you get when you get to help somebody do an obstacle on their own, priceless! So many people said they wouldn’t be able to do the walls on their own, but with a little bit of encouragement from me (and Hanno) they got over the wall and were ecstatic. I remember when I get the hang on obstacles (on my own) and how that makes me feel. It was great to make sure other people get this feeling too!
I think it’s clear that I’m really for volunteering at a Spartan Race. I’m still looking into volunteering at events when I’m not running, but I keep buying racing tickets. I hope this blog helped! Let me know if I forgot a topic or that you want to know anything else.
(This blog is written from my own experience with the Spartan Races in the UK and The Netherlands. I could be different in other countries, but what I could find online is that this is probably how it goes.)