It’s been busy here in Kazakhstan with racing every day, but it didn’t prevent me from catching up with Birkie Volunteer Coordinator Patti Rumler. The thought of the Birkie- or any big racing event-without volunteers is essentially unthinkable. Volunteers do so much to make a race run smoothly, safely, efficiently, and enjoyably. If you aren’t racing in the Birkie but still want to be a pivotal part of its story and success, head to the Birkie’s website and click on the volunteer icon on the first page. I was really curious what being the volunteer coordinator was really about, so below please find some question and answer with Patti!
How do you organize and obtain enough volunteers for the Birkie to run smoothly?
The Race Chiefs have their core of volunteers that they contact every year. We reach out to schools, churches and non-profit organizations for their assistance too. Often quite a few volunteers are walk ons while watching the events. Some of the volunteers are community service workers too which helps on Main Street and before and after assistance.
How many volunteers do you aim to have each year?
It is hard to come up with an actual total not knowing how many are already committed to their Race Chief. It can be anywhere from 2500 – 3000 depending on how many skiers we have.
What is the most difficult part of obtaining volunteers?
Making sure which location is short and that the volunteers are physically able or old enough to assist there.
What is the most rewarding part of being the volunteer coordinator?
When I receive an email from a Chief that states “I’m good with volunteers!”
What are the different areas volunteers can help in?
Bib pick up, parking, food stations, security, baggage, office assistance….. The list is almost too numerous to list.
Do volunteers often come back year to year or do you see a constant stream of new volunteers?
We have many many veteran volunteers and appreciate every one of them! They are an anchor for us.
What makes the Birkie special?
The staff with the wonderful times and laughs we have. Knowing that the Birkie is the largest cross country ski event in North America, and meeting the wonderful skiers and foreign skiers. This is my last Birkie after 14 years so this is so bittersweet for me. I have never spent a birthday with either of my grandchildren (9&7, both born on Birkie dates) so next year in February I’m going to DisneyWorld!