ST. GEORGE — It could be as simple as pouring drinks into cups at an aid station or as challenging as helping yank a wetsuit off a harried athlete transitioning to the bike stage. Whatever the responsibility, whatever service a person is willing to provide, local organizers of Ironman 70.3 North American Pro Championship St. George are seeking volunteers for the May 6 event.
“This event is run by the volunteers. Without them, there is not an event,” Colby Neilson, volunteer director for Ironman 70.3 St. George, said. “This is such a huge boost to our community and the volunteers are key to keeping that great image and providing an awesome experience for all.”
St. George is one of only six Ironman 70.3 regional championship destinations in the world. The course has earned acclaim from athletes because of its challenging topography, eye-popping vistas and dedicated volunteers.
Last year 2,639 competitors, representing 46 states and 24 countries, started the event. They were supported by a massive volunteer turnout of more than 2,000.
Kevin Lewis, director of the St. George Area Sports Commission, echoed Neilson’s sentiments, calling volunteers “the lifeblood of this event.” He said:
The athletes love the challenging course and the natural beauty of the area, but what I hear most is how impressed they are with the volunteer support they get. It’s incredible that we have had in past years a nearly one-to-one ratio of athletes to volunteers, and we’re looking forward to another great turnout this year.
Neilson said he has heard of moments where volunteers were able to help someone past a particularly tough part of the event and how great the volunteer felt afterward. He also recalled the way volunteers spiced up their aid stations with motivating music and themes and lent an extra helping hand while athletes transitioned between stages.
“I can’t say enough about how helpful and supportive our folks are here and how wonderful it makes our event,” Neilson said. “For some athletes, it’s a lifelong dream to compete in an Ironman, and to be a part of an athlete’s dream is quite exhilarating and rewarding. It’s fun to see that happen to those volunteers that experience this for the first time, and also know that it is what brings other volunteers back year after year.”