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Can you say, 'Ride this way?'

by BILL BULEY
Staff Writer | June 16, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - Wanted: Folks willing to stand at street corners, under the hot sun for four hours on June 27 and point bike riders in the right direction.

Oh, and you'll be doing this for free, too.

So far, not many have signed on for that particular task, but Michelle Haustein believes they will.

"The volunteers make the race happen," she said. "They are what keep every athlete coming back to Coeur d'Alene."

Haustein is the director of volunteers for Ironman Coeur d'Alene that's just 11 days away. At least 3,000 volunteers are needed for the daylong race that includes a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.

So far, the count is at 2,556 and climbing.

"We're getting darn close," Haustein said Tuesday.

Popular posts like body marking and finish line catchers are long gone, claimed months ago.

"They fill every year really fast," she said.

But what's not getting much love is the bike course marshal position. About 200 are needed to man turns and corners on the course that stretches from the streets of Coeur d'Alene to the hills of Hayden Lake. Only 40 have offered to take on that role.

"That's the one area we desperately need more people," she said.

Haustein said bike course marshals are critical to Ironman. "These are wonderful people who protect athletes on the course," she added.

They don't do traffic control. Their job is just to be sure cyclists turn left, right, go straight or turn around.

"They are there strictly to guide the athletes," Haustein said.

It can be a tough sell because bike marshals are out there early at parts of the course where there are few others. There may be lots of time between the pros and the amateur, so it can get a little dull - or frantic with racers flying by at high speeds.

"This is always an issue," she said. "I've just never seen it this bad."

But Haustein said food is delivered to volunteers, and by recruiting friends or family members to join you, it can be fun. Shifts go from about 8 a.m. to noon, and noon to 5, depending on the location.

A few other areas that need volunteers are finish line crowd control, and bike checkout from 8 p.m. to midnight.

There will be an Ironman volunteer registration booth under the clock tower near Independence Point from about 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday. Volunteers can also sign up at ironmancda.com

An appreciation banquet for volunteers is set for Monday, June 28, the day after Ironman. It is usually held on the following Tuesday, but was moved up a day to give more volunteers a chance to attend.

Haustein said Ironman Coeur d'Alene has a reputation of having the best volunteers.

"We are the No. 1 volunteer location," she said. "St. George is trying to take that away from us."

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