Volunteers: They're the heart of Ironman - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Volunteers: They're the heart of Ironman

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Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2012 12:15 am | Updated: 10:27 am, Fri Nov 16, 2012.

COEUR d'ALENE - The line of people wearing purple shirts snaked back and forth from the massive white tent in the Third Street parking lot.

Sure it was sunny and hot, but they stood, chatting and joking, waiting patiently, for the free dinner, prizes and praise that awaited them inside on Monday night.

On the back of those purple shirts was one word that explained why these folks were due a little pampering: "Volunteer."

Absolutely, they deserve the spotlight, said Michelle Haustein, volunteer director for Ironman Coeur d'Alene.

"I love bragging about my volunteers," she said as she prepared awards to be given out.

This year, 3,762 volunteers helped around 2,200 athletes reach the finish line of the 140.6-mile race on Sunday.

They did that by handing out food, water and sports drinks; pointing people in the right direction; monitoring traffic; marking bodies with numbers and ages; peeling off wetsuits; guarding bikes; and hopping on kayaks and paddleboards to watch over the swimmers.

And yes, they cheered. Loud. Often.

They made the difference on the 10th anniversary of the event.

"I always tell people, the athletes are the soul of the operation, the staff is the brains, but the volunteers are the heart," Haustein said. "Without heart, you're not going to have a race. They keep everything pumping and flowing."

She is not surprised Ironman Coeur d'Alene gets a strong response for volunteers.

"We always go way over, because the community just gets it," she said.

During Monday's volunteer appreciation banquet, several awards were given out.

Captain of the Year went to Kimberly Guthrie, a run course marshal in charge of placing people on corners to keep runners headed the right way.

"That's all they do all day long is direct athletes. They cheer them on, they direct," Haustein said.

As part of her award, Guthrie will receive a free trip to any Ironman in the U.S.

The volunteer of the year award went to Connie Price.

The Hayden woman completed Ironman last year, but had to pull out on the bike course this year.

But she didn't quit. She went home, cleaned up, came back and volunteered. Before the race, she helped in registration, T-shirt sorting, and preparation for meetings. She was out again Monday, pitching in.

Don Sausser spent 12 hours Sunday as a volunteer, and among his duties, he delivered food and ice to volunteers on the course.

He's been stepping up for Ironman since it came to Coeur d'Alene in 2003.

"It's fun to be involved," the Coeur d'Alene man said.

Another 10-year volunteer, Patricia Richardson, has worked a variety of jobs on race day. Her day Sunday started around 8 a.m. and didn't end for 15 hours, as she escorted one of the final runners toward the finish line.

"It was wonderful. I love the energy," she said. "The other volunteers and the athletes are great and they're so appreciative."

Richardson is thrilled there will be five more years of Ironman.

"I think it's a great thing for Coeur d'Alene. I wouldn't miss it for the world," she said.

Sausser, too, is looking forward to more years being an Ironman volunteer.

"If my body works, I will be there," he said with a smile.

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  • concernedcitizen posted at 6:29 am on Wed, Jun 27, 2012.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    Typical CdA.

    Ironman makes money.
    The city makes money.
    The local slave labor restaurants and hotels make money.


  • my own opinion posted at 7:54 pm on Tue, Jun 26, 2012.

    my own opinion Posts: 397

    I totally agree bionic man we had that same trouble in Hayden. I am so glad that Iron man stayed in CDA this year(the host city!) and out of my neighborhood but are very sorry you now face the trash left for the homeowners to clean up! we cleaned up paper poo and all sorts of things around here way to go iron slums! also trash on 95 has to be picked up by tax payer funds sneaky.I know this is a great race for the participants and respect their streangth but the workers should clean up the track but they want free meal, prizes, photo in the paper and to wear and show off a very unearned t-shirt to look good in but noooooo they stop there and run out on the rest of the job! got one at my work a real horn tooter on himself I know he would never clean up the track area after would just leave with a baggie of food for his family like he does at our work lol.

  • bionic man posted at 4:05 pm on Tue, Jun 26, 2012.

    bionic man Posts: 347

    So why didn't the volunteers clean up the mess left behind? ( water bottles, cups, misc trash.) I drove down CDA Lake Drive Monday am and it was disgusting. Ironman benefit for the local money grabbers, the heck with the community. If I threw trash and left behind what they did, I'm sure I'd get a hefty fine. No excuse for the trash. My opinion, trash Ironman.

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