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Ironman 70.3 Blue Ridge Volunteering

“So, 73.2 is the water temperature right now?”


“Do you think it will get warmer?”

Well, it’s gonna be above 90 all weekend. And that lake is enclosed. It doesn’t get any traffic. So I suspect it could get up to 76.

“How deep is it?”

And see. I was doing so well bullshitting like I know stuff. Up to that point.

But Fall Risk was watching me. And I couldn’t let her down. So I pushed on.

Well, we’re not allowed to swim in it. So I’ve never really had reason to look into that…but it’s not…too deep…I don’t…

Yeah. I don’t talk about lake depth. This dude needed to move along.

But Friday went along much like that. With Fall Risk and I devoting an eight hour shift to volunteer for Ironman 70.3. As Rogue captained us.

And I bullshited my way through all of the athletes’ questions. As though I know a damn thing about anything.

At one point, Fall Risk and I decided we’d sign up as a relay team next year. I’d run. She’d bike. And we’d sign Rogue up to do the swim.

Because she’s the captain.

Captains swim.

We’d spent the weeks leading up to that asking her dumbass questions. Like if we were required to wear our volunteer shirts. Or any shirt. Or pants. And what we should do with our parking passes if we opted to walk. And what were the contingency plans in the case of a zombie attack. Or alien invasion.

Those last two were actually legit.

Always have contingency plans.

But our fake dumbass questions were nothing compared to the sincere dumbass questions she was getting from other volunteers.

I’m not sure why Rogue thought volunteering as a captain was a good idea.

And I’m not sure why Fall Risk and I thought that signing up for so many volunteer shifts. Requiring us to people. For three solid days. Was a good idea.

Although, in all fairness. We all signed up for these spots two years ago.

Back before life just fell all apart.

Back when all of our friends were signing up to actually participate. In the actual event.

So at least we weren’t doing that. Swimming 1.2 miles through Roanoke’s drinking water. And biking 56 miles up Buchanan. And down the parkway. Through the lovely town of Vinton… And then running 13.1 miles. On the greenway. In full sun. And 90+ humid as hell heat.

And at least we had Rogue to captain us.

And Rogue does not play.

At one point another dude wearing a captain shirt and badge rolled in. And Rogue sat his ass down at the table next to us. To do the same menial labor as the rest of us peasants.

And he did not move his ass from that spot until the end of his shift.


She did give us the day off Saturday. But still made me wake up early. And…

Well, our plan had been to do some miles out at Day Creek.

And we did go to Day Creek. Eventually. And were on our way. Up Doty.

But then we got distracted. By a side trail. So we followed it…

And by the time it looped us back around to the bottom of Doty. We figured 3 miles was a solid enough day. No need to over exert ourselves on our day off.

On Sunday. Our shift didn’t start until 2pm.

So, obviously Rogue decided that we were getting up at 5am.

Because we wanted to see the swimmers in the cove.

So we drove over to Daleville. And hiked up towards Hay Rock.

First. Y’all. I’m not even sure Hay Rock exists. Because every time I go there. Wherever we are. They tell me it’s not actual Hay Rock. Hay Rock is further up. Or back. Or just somewhere in my imagination.

At one point. On our way up. Rogue says, “We need to pick up our pace or we’ll miss the start.”

So I started running.

Because I’m compliant.

And she has that fucking captain badge and shit.

And maybe I whined a little bit. About the running. And she says she doesn’t know why I made that choice…

But you said…

“What I said was, you’re picking up your pace like we’re going to miss the start.”

No. That’s not what…


I mean. It’s not like we weren’t already sweaty and disgusting before the running. But still. The exertion.

Anyway. We did get to see the swimmers. Just swimming and peeing all in our drinking water.

We sat there for a while. Watching our friends badass their way through the Cove. Until the last swimmer disappeared into the trees.

Then she let us go get waffles. And bacon.

And then she led us back to Ironman Village. Four hours early for our shift.

I’m just sayin. When I showed up an hour early on Friday. Y’all made fun of me. But I guess if you’re wearing a captain shirt you get to do that.

And we slathered on sun screen. Repeatedly.

And sat. In the shade. Melting.

At one point. Rogue asked what the 70.3 meant. And…I mean…that really seems like a question I would ask.

But as Fall Risk and I explained it to her. She continued to look skeptical. Which is fair. Because us. But eventually. After we walked her through our math. She agreed. That we were right. 1.2 + 56 + 13.1 = 70.3.

As we watched our friends and a thousand other people. Run past us. In the full sun.

That’s my Beautiful Beastie living up to her nickname right there.

I don’t think I can adequately describe the hell these people were pushing through.

After waking up for a 3am shuttle into Carvins Cove.

Swimming 1.2 miles. With people kicking you in the face. Or elbowing you out of your lane. Maneuvering through other swimmers. While trying to keep the bouys in your sights.

And then. Pulling themselves out of their wetsuits. Unassisted. Because Covid. And biking 56 of the hardest miles they’ve ever biked. (Seriously. These out of towners were not ready.) And, I mean, the parkway is breathtaking. But the bullshit you have to climb to get there. Nah. I’m good.

But after all of that. In the hottest part of the day. They ran that bullshit greenway. Two loops. In full sun. Just Flat the whole way. Which is the worst thing in the world to run.

And while we were yelling out our obnoxious encouragement. From the comfort of our shady seats. They were keeping it totally real. “This is bullshit.”

I’m pretty sure every damn one of them said some version of that. As they ran past us.

And then. We shifted around to the finish line. Where we were inspired to maybe get our asses back into shape.

Not to, like, sign up for an Ironman. That bullshit idea was canceled the moment we saw the always smiling badass Runabout Ali looking like she might stab someone if they came near her as she ran down that bullshit greenway.

Nah, I’m good.

But to at least be able to do some shit again.

Like Leadville…next week…


Then we wandered over to the awards tent. At 2pm. Where we laid out the awards. And then sat. For two hours. In the shade. Complaining about how hot we were.

Because volunteering is hard.

And at the end of our shift. Our captain told us how proud she was of us. For all of the socialing we did. Like, pleasant and mostly not awkward socialing.

And today. As my reward. For an exhausting weekend volunteering for Ironman 70.3. Blue Ridge edition.

I get to go spend the morning with magical Roanoke Yoga. For some Thai massage yoga.

And then the rest of the day not talking to a single other human.

Volunteering is hard.


Just reading and writing and running and looking for my happy place.

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