Behind the Scenes on Race Day

Fitness Trainer

When thinking about the sport of triathlon, we tend to automatically think about the athletes and their dedication to push the limits of their abilities. The athletes are the centre of attention, and the ones that make the race a spectacle. They train hard through the days, weeks, months and years until they become the perfect example of how far dedication and discipline can take us. Behind the scenes, however, there are groups of people, just as dedicated and committed, that make it possible for the athletes to shine on race day.

From making sure the athletes stay hydrated, to plotting the race course routes, keeping athletes motivated to ensuring that rules are being followed. There are many teams of people in the background making sure everything goes as planned. Today’s blog is a thank you to all these people, often volunteers, who give up their time to help make triathlon the great sport that it is.

Technical Officials: The team behind the rules. Technical Officials make sure that events are run in accordance with competition rules, in this case by Triathlon Australia (TA). You will see them at the start line, in the transition area, on the mount and dismount area and out on the motorbikes on the bike course.

Some of the roles the Technical Officials have are:

  • Creating an atmosphere of fairness and equality around the sport.
  • Ensuring the health and safety of every athlete, volunteer, and the general public in the area.
  • Making sure competitors follow the rules and penalising those who don’t.
  • Promoting inclusion, and fair play.
  • Continuous feedback to ensure every event is better than the previous one.

Something that not everyone knows is that you can pursue a career as a Technical Official. This can include officiating in local events and even to being called to an international event on other side of the world. Technical Officials often meet the best athletes in the world and have amazing experiences along the way. Many coaches, friends and family of athletes become technical officials for many different reasons.

Coaches: Coaches need to know every aspect of the sport. Whether it is an triathlon coach, a club volunteer coach, or a professional squad coach, from the moment an athlete decides to embark in their journey, the coache begins building a program. A journey into triathlon can even transform a life, and it requires a balance to make sure the athlete performs well and safely. Coaches become mentors, guides, emotional support, sometimes even counsellors for athletes, helping them balance the sport. A coach gets to know an athlete to the full extreme. A good coach does not shine on his or her own, but through their athletes. The efforts are all focused on strengthening the athlete’s mind and body.

Family and friends: That emotional support, that cheer that the athletes need to cross the finish line. The friends and family role is much more valuable than someone might imagine. There have been studies on the effects on the body of being in the presence of loved ones when competing at different events. Just being in the presence of a person important to you will trigger your body to produce hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. These hormones reduce the amount of physical pain you feel and will also help you feel secure, calm and strong. Triggering these emotions and hormones in moments of high physical demand will help push on an athlete. You could consider having loved ones at your race as a way of hacking your body into becoming stronger by using the “power of love.”

Family and loved ones can trigger in someone a kind of strength unbeknown to them. The attachment to each member brings to each athlete an effect of overcoming the hardest challenges they face in their life. In the same way that people motivate themselves to keep pushing when everything is going wrong just by thinking about a loved one, the presence of this person can be the fuel that will push an athlete to cross the finish line.

Volunteers: The importance of volunteers is hard to put into words. They are the first to arrive and the last to leave. Long after the final athlete has crossed the finish line, the volunteers are still there. They endure the wind, the sun and the rain just to make sure every athlete stays hydrated and safe throughout the race. They are also the people behind the organisation of tents, finish line, barriers, and cones throughout the course. All these elements, that most of us take for granted, are organised and placed in a specific way by the volunteers.

It is hard to put into words how valuable volunteers are to the sport. Be sure to thank them next time you see them, from a smile to an honest gesture of gratefulness can make a big difference.

Event organisers: If volunteers are the muscle behind the sport, the organisers are the spine. From the moment the event date is set, they start making all the arrangements that make it happen. They develop a budget, contact councils, hire space, conduct safety audits, coordinate contractors and ensure every single detail goes according to plan.

Just to mention a few roles they do:

  • Event Management. (This includes workforce, temporary tents, temporary buildings, traffic, budget, etc.)
  • Permit Applications.
  • Marketing and sponsorships.
  • Participant Services. (Safety, emergency, entertainment, planning, etc.)

To make a race happen, we need the perfect coordination of a whole community. Creating a triathlon event not only brings life to those passionate about the sport, but it becomes the perfect event to bring everyone together and raise the flags of union and community.

The next time you are at any sporting event, don’t forget to take a moment to be grateful with everyone involved in making the day a success. Volunteering is a great way to watch a race, and to feel connected to the sport and the community.

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