After volunteering at my first large event – the Marathon of the North – I realised how much I was going to enjoy this aspect of my job. So when the opportunity arose to work (yes work and get paid!) at the British Triathlon Championships in Liverpool I jumped at the chance. I found a hotel which was right on the triathlon route and traveled down to Liverpool on the Thursday night in anticipation of 2 very busy days ahead.
Friday morning dawned bright and sunny as I made my way to the site with all my kit to set up and be briefed. My nerves disappeared and I couldn’t wait to get started.
Friday is registration day so it got off to a quiet start but as lunchtime approached more athletes were arriving and I finally got my first client – a full body massage for an hour! We were generally doing 15 or 30 minute slots so this was a great start for me. Then it was a steady flow through the afternoon and I got to treat and chat to some really lovely people. One in particular – Terry, in the 60+ category who had 2 Ironmans’ under his belt and the tattoo to prove it. Terry was laid back but there were some more serious and no doubt nervous athletes and some along just for fun.
So Friday drew to a close at 9pm, just for a quick bite to eat and off for an early night in preparation for what we were told could be a crazy Saturday.
Saturday was once again hot and sunny and walking from the hotel, some competitors were already on the run section passing right by the front door. The area was packed with spectators and other athletes and the atmosphere was buzzing. It was a steady start but then suddenly we were inundated with athletes hot and salty from sweating in the intense heat and from swimming in the salty water of Liverpool docks. These are amazingly fit people but some were disappointed in their performance whilst others were overjoyed that they had done better than expected. Others were just glad they had finished and wanted to lie down and pretty much fall asleep! Its important to try and find out what the client wants at this stage, if they just want to lie and relax they don’t want you chattering away asking loads of questions, you can usually gauge in the first few minutes.
I saw my next client come to the desk and I have to admit to being slightly nervous – he was 6 foot odd, very expensive tri bike, aerodynamic helmet, KT tape strapped to his calf and obviously very fit. However as soon as he laid on my couch there was no reason to be nervous, he was really interesting to chat to. He was telling me that he had done well in his age group race but was probably going to pull out of the elite race later in the afternoon. Elite! On my couch! What a great opportunity and I took advantage of that opportunity by asking him to pose for a picture – well its not every day you get to meet an elite athlete.
He even replied to my ‘tweet’ and I was very pleased to say the least to read that he did in fact compete in the elite race with the help of my massage.
Our set up was next to the elite transition area and podium so when there was a few spare minutes I could pop over to watch these super fit human beings, they really are awe inspiring. I spotted one athlete with FROST on his tri suit and couldn’t resist popping over and asking for his photo which he happily obliged. A few minutes later I saw him go up on the podium for his GOLD medal in his para-triathlete category!
So a busy day drew to a close. It had been very hot and tiring but extremely enjoyable and fun but most of all really valuable experience. I met people from all walks of life, some who had traveled hundreds of miles to compete and people with really interesting lives and stories to tell. Cant wait for next year!