Andy Etters, race volunteer extraordinaire

Our award for volunteer of the day at Saturday’s Cry Me A River 6-hour mountain bike race at Little River Regional Park goes to … Andy Etters! And not just because of the little white pills Andy gave me after my debilitating fifth lap. More about those pills in a moment.

Volunteers are the folks who make our runs and rides happen. From stuffing registration packets to handling check-in to acting as course marshals to cleaning up afterward, volunteers are the vital ingredient to everything from fun runs and marathons to kiddie bike rodeos and century rides to sprint triathlons and full-fledged Ironmans. No volunteers, no event. It’s that simple.

Andy gets our nod for being there from start to finish. At yesterday’s Cry Me A River, the first of four Johnson Subaru/Triangle Off-Road Cyclists-sponsored races in its mtb Endurance Series, Andy got the 51 of us racing off to a smooth start at 9 a.m. Well, pretty smooth.

XXXXX, winner of the Female Solo category checks the results.
Melissa Cooper, winner of the Female Solo category, checks the results.

“The park has been great,” Andy told us as part of his pre-race spiel. “They’re even going to let us race in the rain, if it rains. The only time we’ll stop the race is if there’s lightening. I’ll blow this horn,” he said holding aloft a handheld compressed-air horn. He looked at the horn and gave it a sample toot. “Like that,” he said.

He paused, a thought crossing his brow. “Uh oh. They’re going to think I just started the race,” he said referring to the horn’s other function — to alert the starter’s table a quarter mile away that the race had begun. Another volunteer was dispatched to the scorer’s table — where chip-timing was being provided by Off ‘n Running Sports — to nix the false start.

Throughout the race, Andy manned the start/finish, cheering riders on and offering advice — and more — to those who needed it.

At the end of lap five I hobbled into our pit area.

“I’m cramping,” I said.

“Where?” asked wife/pit-crew chief Marcy.


My training partner and first-time endurance racer Alan Nechemias suggested electrolytes. “I think I saw some at the starter’s table.” Sure enough, Andy had a stash of capsules behind the PBJs and bananas. He handed me two. “Swallow one, let the other dissolve between your check and gum. If you’re actively cramping it’ll get into your system faster.” Darned if I wasn’t ready to ride within 10 minutes.

At race’s end, I went searching for Andy to thank him. “I think he already went out to clear the course,” said Sean Callihan, TORC’s Race Director and a repeat winner of our VOTD honor. Sure enough, Andy was heading out to remove the yellow tape marking the course and pick up spent Gu packets before the post-race cookout had begun.
Thanks, Andy. We owe you a hot dog.

One of the last volunteer duties for Sean Callihan at Saturday's race: Push home the grill.

(Our runner-up VOTD award goes to Matt Jenkins. Midway through Lap 2, the cleat on my right shoe became welded to my right pedal, a situation I became aware of as I tried to clip out while falling in a hilltop rock garden. Matt was patrolling the course and managed to first separate me from my shoe, and then separate my shoe from my bike. Without Matt, I’d still be attached to my bike, whimpering in the midst of a rock garden. Thanks, Matt.)

For full results of Saturday’s Cry Me A River, visit Off ‘n Running here.

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