Some things I learned in the transition tent while volunteering at Ironman Florida 2012 that I think will help me next time I do an Ironman:
- Don't tie the bag strings in a square knot. Tie with a method that will be easy to untie in the transition tent.
- Stickers (you know with your number on it) come off. Mark the bag with your number on both sides with big, bold numbers. I have seen complaints from folks decrying that they saw volunteers looking through people's transition bags. Yes, we did. So, we could find something with your number on it so we could ensure you get your bag back.
- Put "butt'r" in a ziplock. Easy to open, easy to get a glob for applying.
- Don't overpack! I could not believe the amount of stuff some people brought.
- Be organized. It was clear that those that had a well organized bag and a clear plan for doning stuff got through more smoothly.
- Be prepared to tell the assistant exactly what you need. For example, tell them "I have nutrition in my shoe, please remove it." I specifically asked each person "feel free to tell me exactly how I can help you". I took control of getting them organized if they weren't, in a polite way. I think all the volunteers had the same goal. Remove the worry from the athlete and do anything, and I do mean anything, to help. I rubbed on lotion, pulled down shirts, pulled up shorts, taped feet. Volunteers are there to help and want to. Take advantage.
- Don't brag about your accomplishments from previous races to the volunteer. Focus on the day and the process of this race. It is actually a bit distracting to get into a dialogue about past achievements while trying to focus on ensuring this one is an awesome experience in my opinion, anyway.
And, for the volunteer
- Be a force of positivity to the athlete. Reflect enthusiasm and confidence.
- Take special care with people's stuff, especially sunglasses or other breakables.
- Lots of people seem to like putting sunglasses in their helmet.