Volunteering is a great way to experience Actif Epica. And if you think maybe you’d like to ride it in a future year, it’s a fantastic opportunity to see what it’s really like. I should know.
In 2012, the first year of Actif Epica, I spent the day out in Niverville, the half way point for the racers, recording in and out times for participants and taking in the adrenaline.
Over the course of the day, I was asked about a dozen times, by racers passing through who knew me as a rider, and by other volunteers popping in and out of my station, “Why aren’t you out there riding your bike?” If another volunteer asked me that question, I often threw that question right back at them because many of my fellow volunteers were like me — riders who were not quite ready to take the leap.
Our excuses were many, but collectively they boiled down to a sense of trepidation, feelings of lack of preparedness, and a need to sit back and watch, at least for this one year, and learn. The difference between racing and volunteering is this: Racing you’re stuck in your own head space feeling every ache in your body, fighting the urge to succumb to the weaknesses of your mind and the burn in your lungs and your legs. The only person you get to know in a race is yourself.
Volunteering is what makes you understand why people do this. You come to understand who the organizers are and the passions that drive them. You see the racers and their pain, how they smile through it and carry on, and how different every racers’ needs and styles of organization and preferences for food and gear can be.
There is a lot of excitement in having that global view of a race, the Twitter messages reporting on rider conditions and locations and the radio reports saying that, “so-and-so is a mile out and will be there in less than 10 minutes.” There are so many people I met or got to know better because of volunteering at this race. It gave me the courage to toe the line in 2013 and I will be there on the start line in 2014 again.
If you aren’t riding or running Actif Epica this year, but have more than a passing interest in the human resilience on display across their 130km trek, I really encourage you to volunteer. Especially if you’re thinking of hitting the trail in 2015.
You can register as a volunteer here. And don’t worry, the ManiYeti doesn’t bite. He hugs.