“Being a volunteer is fulfilling,” Neilson said. “You experience the same Ironman energy as competitors when you help someone achieve their Ironman dream.”
St. George boasted the highest volunteer turnout of any Ironman event in 2010 and 2011, with over 4,500 volunteers each year. Volunteers help in a variety of capacities, from captain positions which staff 97 different areas throughout the course, to certified swim people, transition helpers, course pointers, finish line catchers, medical crews, registration assistants, banquet organizers, and more.
Another enticing factor is the Ironman Foundation—an organization that brings money back into the community. Each station captain has the opportunity to allocate a $500-$750 donation to an organization of their choosing.
Local optometrist Paul Gooch will be serving as captain of run aid station #4 for this third consecutive year. As a member of the Rotary Club of Dixie Sunrise, Gooch allocates his aid station’s Ironman Foundation donation to the Washington County Search and Rescue. The donations from the past three years have helped Search and Rescue purchase high-priced search equipment, such as swift water rescue gear.
Gooch noted that the behind-the-scenes camaraderie and bonding at his aid station has made participation particularly meaningful. Each year, Gooch’s aid station has roasted a pig in the ground and held a luau to feed all the volunteers and maintain a festive morale for athletes.
“The most rewarding part for me is to hear our town described with words from the Boy Scout Law,” Gooch said. “I’ve heard visitors describe St. George as cheerful, friendly, courteous, etc. There’s something different in this town; it’s the people that make the difference.”
Colby Neilson estimated that 80 percent of last year’s volunteers reside locally. Volunteers are treated to a thank you banquet and a free t-shirt.
Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up at www.ironmanstgeorge.com under the “volunteer” tab. Other inquiries may be directed to Colby Neilson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Neilson said local businesses interested in advertising to this group are welcome to contact him as well to donate coupons, gift cards, or prizes for the banquet.