Annual triathlon has 1:3 volunteer-racer ratio
On the evening of March 4, about 2,000 people will be clicking, double-clicking and refreshing their Internet browsers, frantically trying to obtain one of the coveted 1,500 spots in the annual Gold Nugget Triathlon. The event, which has grown to epic proportions and includes everyone from semi-pro athletes to weekend warriors wanting to reach a goal, is a rite of passage for Alaska women.
“I think it is the incredible community of women in Anchorage we have here,” says Sheila Swanson, the race’s director, of Gold Nugget’s exponential popularity. “It’s women helping women.”
This year’s Gold Nugget will again be at its limit – of the 1,500 who secure those spot on opening night, about 200 to 300 will end up dropping out and opening spots for those on the wait list. There are always people on the wait list, Swanson says.
“A third of our racers are new every year, and the prior racers teach the new ones,” she says. “These are women and girls of all athletic abilities.”
The Gold Nugget Triathlon is one of the first real competitive events of the 2014 racing season. The course includes a 500-yard swim in the Bartlett High School pool, followed by a 12-mile bicycle time trial and a 4.1-mile run. The race is set for May 18, which most years is snow free. Last year, however, late-season snows threatened to cancel the race.
“Every year we have some new challenge we need to overcome, and at the last minute last year, we had a change on the bike course,” Swanson says. “We’re always hoping to dial it in and get it right each year.”
One of those challenges, Swanson says, is finding enough volunteers to cover the long day of racing. The first swimmers get into the pool early in the morning, and the last dive in at about 4 p.m. That makes for a long day for volunteers – about 500 of who will step up throughout the day.
“Yes, we can us
e as many volunteers as possible – and they can come in the night before the race,” Swanson says.
And for those who don’t make that coveted top 1,500 at registration? There will be a limited number of spots up for auction at local nonprofits such as Girls on the Run and Running Free Alaska.
“There will be a few out there,” she says. “Just keep checking our Facebook page.”
The Gold Nugget Triathlon will be held May 18, beginning at Bartlett High School. For more information, visit www.goldnuggettriathlon.com.