Thousands of athletes compete in IRONMAN 70.3 Pennsylvania Happy Valley, and thousands of volunteers make it possible. Here’s how you can help
On July 2, thousands of athletes will converge on Happy Valley for one of the best-known tests of competitive endurance racing, and it will take over a thousand local volunteers to help make it happen.
Volunteers are needed for a myriad of jobs, both on the race day and the week leading up to it. There are a couple of hundred volunteers already on the books, but recruiters say that there is a need for about 1,500 volunteers to help the event run smoothly.
Josh Cone, race director for IRONMAN 70.3 Pennsylvania Happy Valley, and Eric Nartatez, volunteer coordinator, said it takes a lot of people from the community to get involved.
“It’s going to take Centre County and Central PA really digging in,” Cone said.
Right now, Nartatez said he is focusing on recruiting for the two race transition zones.
Here’s how you can get involved
Sunscreen, traffic and teardown: The first transition zone will be at Bald Eagle State Park, where competitors will transition from the 1.2-mile swim to their bikes for a 56-mile ride to the Penn State campus and Beaver Stadium. Volunteers will be needed to monitor the bike-out area to ensure competitors mount their bikes beyond the heavy traffic athlete zone, and help direct athletes to the self-serve sunscreen table and clean up litter. The later shift will also be needed to help tear down the transition zone.
Helping athletes stow their bikes: At the second transition zone at Beaver Stadium, athletes will stow their bikes and prepare for the 13.1-mile run through State College and back to Beaver Stadium. Here, volunteers will be needed to help athletes dismount in a safe place clear of competitor traffic.
Lifeguarding, crowd control, food stations, registration: There are many other roles available for volunteers, such as setup, registration, gear check-in, course marshals, lifeguards, crowd control and food stations.
Team Captains: Nartatez said he’s also looking for people to act as captains, a role which requires signing up and organizing groups of people. There is no minimum or maximum number a captain needs to recruit: it could be five people or 40 people. This role is good, Nartatez said, for when a group wants to volunteer together, like a church group or organization.
There is even limited funding available for nonprofit groups, provided by The IRONMAN Foundation. Those interested in volunteering as a group and possibly receiving funding should contact Nartatez directly at email@example.com.
Interested in volunteering? Find out more at ironman.volunteerlocal.com.
Being a part of the energy
Triathlons have many different types of competitors, from people trying to top the charts in their age bracket, to those who are simply trying to finish for the first time. No matter the context, each athlete will spend hours training for the single day’s event.
Cone has been racing triathlons for the last 15 years. He said watching athletes be cheered on by their friends and family is an emotional experience.
“My favorite part of events is not racing, but staying there to the very end and watching that last person finish that’s been out there for three times as long as I was, and knowing how hard they worked for every stroke in the water, every pedal rotation, for every stride on the run,” Cone said. “Seeing that person finish and the family and friends waiting for that person … to know the hours they put in when nobody else was around, that this may be a goal, that they’ve never done anything like that before.”
“My favorite part of events is not racing, but staying there to the very end and watching that last person finish that’s been out there for three times as long as I was, and knowing how hard they worked for every stroke in the water, every pedal rotation, for every stride on the run”
- Josh Cone, race director for IRONMAN 70.3 Pennsylvania Happy Valley
Athletes will come from all over the United States, and Cone said there are even some European registrants on the books.
For a short time, Happy Valley will be transformed into one big race route. Athletes will start their journey from the swimming beach that locals know so well at Bald Eagle State Park. The swimming portion will see athletes take off from the starting line, hit two turns in the water to form a triangle and head to their first transition zone back on the beach where their bikes are waiting.
Once on their bikes, athletes will zip up Eagle Valley Road then cut south in Mill Hall, following Jacksonville Road. They’ll then work their way back toward State College along Nittany Valley Drive and East College Avenue. Then, it will be time for the climb between Pleasant Gap and Centre Hall. They’ll cut south west again along Upper Brush Valley Road and Brush Valley Road, find Boalsburg and East Branch roads, then make their way to campus by way of University Drive.
Finally, the 13.1-mile will take athletes across Penn State’s campus and beyond, then back again to cross the finish line on Beaver Stadium’s 50-yard line.
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