Steve, thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. Just to start, can you tell us a little bit about your role with OSB Events?
As the Project Manager for OSB Events, I am the lead organiser for our shorter distance events (Midlands Series & Robin Hood Adventure Challenge) and then support the Directors on the longer distance races. In addition to this, there is a multitude of Operational Items that need to be sorted prior to events across the whole events calendar. At the events themselves you will most likely see me out on the bike course in an Event Support Vehicle helping any of our competitors that need it and at the larger events keeping people going when they suffer minor mechanical issues.
You actually started as a volunteer for OSB Events, can you tell us more about that? How did you first get involved?
I first got involved in triathlon back in 2002 with my first event being at the Woodhall Spa Sprint Triathlon. It was not long after that my wife, the lovely Liz (if you’ve volunteered with us you’ll have met Liz at Volunteer registration) started volunteering instead of just watching me race all the time!! Not long after that I combined racing with Volunteering.
Back in 2009 when OSB Events were responsible for delivering the Kids of Steel series all over the country, I started doing some part-time work focused on planning and then leading a small team to deliver the series which grew to 24 events across the country giving over 18000 kids their first experience in that single year!! As they say, things just progressed from there and the rest is history.
What was your favourite moment volunteering for OSB Events?
One of the things that I really enjoy about triathlon is that it is a fully inclusive sport and I have had the pleasure of Volunteering at a huge variety of events ranging from being a water handler at ParaTriathlon World Champs when I have been competing around the world, becoming transition crew for some amazing para-triathletes as far afield as China! Though 1 thing that I’ll always remember is having a chat with an Outlaw competitor after he had just finished his Outlaw Challenge in 2017. Sat in the food tent and he told me that he started his triathlon journey with me at a Novice Training Day that as OSB we organised and I was part of the delivery team (being a club coach with Lincoln Tri) where he arrived nervously and like a rabbit in headlights around 4 years earlier. That day gave him the confidence to go out and enjoy his first tri, which led him on a journey that saw him achieve a personal goal of being an Outlaw. This gave me a real buzz as seeing people grow and progress to have that confidence to achieve their objectives in our fantastic sport in hugely motivating.
Your role now is Project Manager which involves a lot of event operations, you’re also responsible for recruiting and allocating volunteers, what’s your approach to this?
Having started as a volunteer, I have the benefit of seeing it from both sides of the fence. Volunteers are the lifeblood of our sport and we pride ourselves on looking after our volunteers and wanting to make sure that they have as much fun as the athletes that are taking part. Every single job that a Volunteer does is vital to the event happening and without them, they just wouldn’t be the same. We aren’t always perfect, though we will always listen and try to improve for every single event. We are lucky to have an amazing crew that come to a large number of our events every year and over time they gravitate themselves to areas that they excel at. As we get new volunteers we will always pair them up with a member of our experienced crew so they can always ask a question if they need to.
Having volunteered yourself, was there anything you were keen to improve upon or implement when you took over the volunteer coordination?
Not really, OSB has always had amazing policies in place for looking after their volunteers. We have adapted and developed as a group making small tweaks here and there to make sure that we are looking after everybody as well as we can at every single event.
What are the challenges involved with recruiting and allocating volunteers?
Recruiting Volunteers is never an easy job, however, I do believe that we look after our Volunteers as well as if not better than everybody else out there!! As a result, we have the best crew in the country which we are always keen to attract new people to come and see how much fun they can have supporting other athletes achieve their goals as many have as they have tried to achieve their own goals.
If someone was on the fence with regards to volunteering, what would you say are the main benefits of volunteering with OSB Events?
Just do it, we will look after you. Depending on the event will determine what we are able to offer to our Volunteers.
At all events, we give all of our volunteers a food bag, with a selection of goodies inc a drink and sandwich to keep you fed and watered while you are with us. We have a permanent Volunteer base which is open for our volunteers for the duration of the event where you can pop in to grab a hot (or cold) drink and there is plenty of cake to tuck into.
At the smaller events, we also give all our volunteers a Race Credit to use against any of our events they may want to race.
For our Outlaw events, we also offer all volunteers Free Camping, Crew T-shirts, an Outlaw Gift as well as a free entry into the event on the Saturday of the Outlaw Event weekend.
What are your plans for 2019 and volunteers?
We are currently in the process of confirming a couple of exciting new events for 2019, which we are hopefully be announcing very soon.
From a Volunteering perspective, we are already getting plans in place for our 2019 Volunteers. As always we are aiming to make sure that they have as much fun being part of our OSB Volunteer Army as they would do if they were taking part! With over 2000 volunteers at the 2018 events, 2019 is going to be massive!! Bring it on!