Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Volunteering at BattleFrog - Pittsburgh, PA

People sure do love their race!  That seems to be the theme that runs through the different venues and races I've volunteered at so far.  Sometimes it's because that's the race you started with.  Sometimes it's a unique aspect of a particular venue.  That was the case with BattleFrog in Pittsburgh for one of the couples I worked with on Wednesday...and led to a possibly not so brilliant decision on my part to do the course, even with my bad shoulder from volunteering at the Tough Mudder at Andover, NY.

More on that later.  I've always been someone that can't help being impressed by little things.  No matter that I see them over and over.  So it comes as no surprise that I can't get over how an empty field can be transformed in just a few days into a Renaissance-worthy festival grounds.  I really have to give credit too to the people who can see the potential in these areas when they're apparently nothing more than an undersized and odd shaped spit of open land.

There are two things that have struck me at the first two venues.  One is the enthusiasm of the crews.  Not just the volunteers...they generally don't know enough yet to be anything but a ball of let's-do-this.  No, the build and festival crews themselves obviously enjoy what they do and enjoy working with the volunteers as well.

The second thing I've seen, surprised me only by the way it appears to be so ingrained and heartfelt across the board.  At every turn, the volunteers were thanked for their service.  Now I know, these races simply couldn't happen without the volunteers...at least not in the current method of operation.  Not so much on the build but certainly on race day.  Something all the races must deal with...successfully...on a weekly basis to find the right balance for what they give vs what they get.  Obviously both BattleFrog and Tough Mudder understand this inherently and take any opportunity to thank them. [One aspect I have become aware of doing these, is that BattleFrog doesn't offer timing chips to volunteers when they run.  I'm not sure if this affects their ability to recruit, but without a chip and the legitimacy of a recognized race time, what you get is not a free race, but a free 'challenge'...more like the Tough Mudder]

As always too, there were the new friends I met during the course of the volunteer days.  Race day as well.....but that's a whole 'nother story to tell.  It's also amazing how much mischief new OCR (obstacle course racing) buddies can get each other into without even trying.  But that's a whole 'nother story...not to tell!  Isn't that right Matt?

So, back to that aspect of the venue that I was told about earlier.  I'm always curious what people's favorite races are.  In this case, the couple I was with said this particular course was their favorite.  The reason being that it went through an actual mine and you could even swim part of it during the race.  Well...that pretty much sealed it for me right there.  An engineer that can resist his first trip into a mine...for any reason...has yet to be born.  Bad shoulder or not!  That decision would lead to my first true experience with what I've been hearing about for years now but hadn't experienced first hand.  And that will be my next post....until then!!

Have you volunteered for a race or pre-race build?
Tell me about your experience!


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