Volunteering @ PanAm Games 2015
Equipment Crew during Triathlon and Road Crew during Cycling Road Race
This was my corner during the TORONTO 2015 Pan Am Road Cycling event on Saturday July 25. My Job - whistle twice when I see the athletes approach and hold up the yellow flag. The women raced from 1 to about 3, the men from 4 to about 8. The track was 16.5km and women made 5 laps, men 10 laps.
The corner on Bloor and Parkside was perfect for spectators, the ones that planned to see the event and the ones just passing by and asking about all this ado. All without exception got into the spirit as soon as they lined up on the fence.
Many of them cheered for their home country, Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador displaying their flags, joined by Argentina and of course Canada plus many more. One of the spectators arrived early during the women's race and was all troubled that he had no Canada flag. He took the opportunity between the two races to buy the Canada flag, proudly hanging it on the fence. Cheering eventually became it's own competition, difficult to say which country was the loudest. I must say, my crowd was loud and amazing.
Before the first athletes showed up, a police motorcycle cleared the road, followed by a PanAm car holding Pachi out the window (a stuffed one of course) and encouraging the crowed to cheer. About 10 seconds behind, the first racers. A small Breakaway (lead group), then the Peleton (main group of riders). Immediately behind were the support vehicles, one per country, TV camera on motorcycle, officials car, an Ambulance and eventually the Broom Wagon indicating the end of the group. It was tense at times to see the cars take the curve with the same speed as the bicycles.
Two weeks earlier, I was lucky enough to volunteer Friday to Sunday for the Triathlon. I was assigned to the equipment crew, helping to get all the pieces together that make it happen. We built bike racks. Assembled brooms. Inflated and deflated buoys. Disposed seaweed and other floating debris.
Friday was a busy day for us and the athletes. They had to go through an equipment check. Several branding logos had to be hidden under a strip of tape. Same with the Tri Suits. The bicycles were left on the rack in our care and moved to the containers overnight. Then back onto the rack very early on Saturday morning.
Lots of work before and after the race, but no work during the race. We had time to watch and cheer.
Being in the middle of the action in a big event like the PanAm Games is very exhilarating. I would do it again any time.
Parapan Games start in less than two weeks. I will be back for the Road Cycling event, hopefully back in my corner