Thousands of spectators will line streets throughout Summit County when the USA Pro Challenge zips through in August. People will stand shoulder to shoulder, leaning up against barriers to get a glimpse of the pro riders as they blaze by on their way to glory.
While many will be content with this brush with the race, others may be looking for something more. Fortunately, there is ample opportunity to become involved with the race on a more intimate level. Event organizers are seeking hundreds of volunteers to help with the event — everything from working along the course to involvement with ancillary events. Young or old, family groups or individuals, there is a job for everybody.
The main event
This year, Breckenridge will host two Pro Challenge stages — a Stage 2 finish Aug. 20 and a Stage 3 start Aug. 21. This is the first year the town is responsible for two stages, meaning that an even larger number of volunteers is needed to see that everything runs smoothly.
Fran and Barry Lazarus are the volunteer directors of the Breckenridge Local Organizing Committee. They are drawing on their experience from last year to fill the volunteer positions.
Volunteers will be assigned a position after they sign up. A person can request a specific assignment, though receiving it is not guaranteed. The sooner a person signs up, the more likely it is that he or she will get a requested position.
“We try to do our best, but we can’t accommodate every request,” Barry Lazarus said.
The majority of volunteers in Breckenridge will serve as course marshals at various points along the race. Marshals work with the police department to ensure that the racecourse is clear for the riders.
“A course marshal primarily is there for crowd control and to make sure that no one interferes in any way with the riders as they come through,” Barry said. “We don’t want anyone to jump out to snap a photo or throw anything in the path of the riders.”
Volunteers ambassadors are also needed. This opportunity is open exclusively to Breckenridge residents and requires them to walk around the event, answering questions from visitors about the town — good places to eat, for example, or where a certain street is.
Other volunteer opportunities include setting up and breaking down, parking monitors, hospitality and assistance with ancillary events. Volunteers will receive a t-shirt and a goody bag as a thank you for participating. The Lazaruses estimate they will need about 300 volunteers for the first day and just over 200 people for the second day.
With the exception of the Breckenridge ambassadors, volunteers can be from anywhere, including outside of Summit County and even outside of Colorado.
“It’s not just Summit County or even Denver. It’s from all over the country really,” Barry said, adding that volunteers from Texas and other states have already signed up.
In addition to shirts and swag, volunteering has its perks, said Barry. “It’s a great way to watch the race. You’re right there.”
The High Country Conservation Center (HC3) is also seeking volunteers to help with the recycling and composting at the event. The nonprofit will have “zero waste” tents set up throughout the event area, with designated containers for recycling, compost and trash. Volunteers are needed to make sure the right objects go in the right containers and to transfer full containers out.
“We want to have more volunteers involved and help guests understand where to place their waste and recyclables and compostables so we get as little stuff in the landfill as possible,” said Cassidy Callahan, programs coordinator for HC3.
Callahan emphasized that HC3 volunteers won’t simply be standing around, but have a chance to interact fully with the event.
“There’s lots of walking around and interacting with people there,” she said. “You’re not stuck in a corner by any means. It should be a real cool event.”
Volunteering for HC3 is a good option for families with kids who want to be involved in the event but not in the more intense aspect of course marshal. When volunteers sign up, they can choose which shift they want (shifts run from two to two and a half hours long) and they can even request to be stationed near other friends who are volunteering.
“We want anyone to be involved, whether they’re from out of town, here for the weekend, or just want to get the inside scoop on these events,” Callahan said. “If someone’s new to the area, it’s a great way to meet other people. We’re really flexible and encourage anyone to sign up. We just want to have fun.”
Assisting along the course
While course marshals in Breckenridge will stand along the course in the town limits, the Stage 3 start will take riders out of Breckenridge, over Swan Mountain Road, onto Highway 6 and through Dillon and Silverthorne, heading onward to the finish in Steamboat.
The Silverthorne Police Department is looking for volunteers to assist police officers at intersections and other access points along the Silverthorne section of the route.
“We just want to make sure that we have all of the access points onto the route covered by a volunteer, so a person doesn’t walk out or a car doesn’t drive out into the course inadvertently,” said Silverthorne police chief Mark Hanschmidt.
No experience is needed. Volunteers will be given safety vests and training beforehand. At crucial intersections, volunteers will stand alongside police officers.
“This will be a really great way for people to be able to see this race up front and personal,” Hanschmidt said. “They’ll be standing in front of the barricades and able to really see these riders firsthand.”