I have been to IRONMAN Lake Placid (“IMLP”) several times since 2018 as a racer, volunteer, and support team but never really paid attention to what happens at the end and when the race is over. Having usually not made it to midnight and/or bugging out the next morning. Last year I watched the end of the race and stayed to see the finish and the day after.
The volunteers who help make the event possible need to clean up the racecourse and the transition areas. The clean-up begins while the race is still being run and the effort continues into early on the morning following the race. The breakdown of the race related facilities starts during the race as the last racers pass the various checkpoints and aid stations.
Once the race is over, there is still work to be done and volunteers play a key part in the cleanup. Volunteers gathered at the transition areas, armed with trash bags and gloves, ready to pick up the remnants of the race. The streets around the aid station were littered with energy gel packets, water bottles, and other items left behind by the athletes. The volunteers worked quickly and efficiently to clear the course, ensuring that it was safe and clean for the next day.
By late morning you would not know that there were 3000 swimmers in Mirror Lake that day and the beach and activities are back open. The bike course is completely clean and turned back over to the runners and car traffic by early evening. And the run course is back to traffic late on Sunday night. The last of the race related cleanup happens on the run course and the finish line, and by early in the morning there is little to no evidence of a race being conducted and by 6am on Monday you would never know that a race was put-on all-day Sunday. The only evidence is the merchandise tent, selling finisher gear.
Once the clean-up was complete, it was time to celebrate. There is a volunteer party was held at the local equestrian complex, where the volunteers enjoyed a catered meal, music, and games. The atmosphere was festive and relaxed, with everyone sharing stories and memories from the race.
The organizers of the event took the opportunity to thank the volunteers for their hard work and dedication. The organizers recognize various volunteers for their leadership, continued support, and best themed aid stations. There are volunteers that have been with the race since its inception – it is impressive how all the aid stations compete for prizes.
At the end of the night there is a raffle that all volunteers are able to participate in that has surprisingly great prizes. Once the raffle starts it’s a slippery slope to chaos as they race against the darkness to give away the prizes – starting with one prize at a time to basically a free for all (mostly kids) getting IMLP themed t-shirts, and water bottles.
IMLP is more than just a physical challenge for the athletes and volunteers. It’s an opportunity for athletes and volunteers to come together and celebrate the human spirit. The clean-up and volunteer party are essential parts of the event, ensuring that the racecourse is safe and clean and that the volunteers feel appreciated for their hard work. It’s a reminder that IMLP race is not just a one-day event but a year-round effort that brings people together and inspires them to achieve their best.