My coach, who also times races, has a policy: anyone who shouts at a volunteer is instantly disqualified from the race. I wholeheartedly agree with this policy. Volunteers are rarely thanked (enough) and are often treated disrespectfully by racers who expect their questions answered and their problems resolved.
Many moons ago, long before I ventured into triathlons, I volunteered at Reston Triathlon. I was in the middle of the woods on the run course, getting eaten alive by mosquitos as I directed runners. I’m sure many of them thanked me but of course what I remember is being asked:
- “How many people are in front of me?” (Oh, I didn’t realize it was my job to count runners!)
- “Do you have any salt?” Â Me: “No.” Athlete: “What, you don’t even have pretzels?” (Do I look like an aid station?)
- “Where’s the turnaround?” Me, guessing: “About half a mile.” Athlete: “No it isn’t!” (Why, then, did you ask, if you already knew?!)
- “How much further?” Me, guessing again: “About two miles.” Athlete: “You must be joking!” (Well, yes, probably…)