This year marks the 30th annual Wildflower Triathlon this weekend at Lake San Antonio, where more than 900 Cal Poly students will volunteer and support the Cal Poly Triathlon team.
The Avia Wildflower triathlons consist of three races — the long course, mountain bike and olympic distance triathlons — and three days of festivities and camping.
The weekend event is historically known for kicking off the triathlon season for most competing age groups — the season starts now and goes through summer. For the Cal Poly Triathlon Team, the race marks the end of their season.
Chandler Morehardt, an architectural engineering junior and member of the triathlon team, said this is an event that everyone looks forward to all year.
“Most of the volunteers are Cal Poly people, and (Wildflower) being so close to SLO, we like to think of it as our hometown race,” Morehardt said.
Having all that Cal Poly support during the race creates “a really uplifting atmosphere,” Morehardt said. “If you’re wearing any kind of Cal Poly gear, you’re a rockstar. People just go crazy for you.”
Between the triathlons, there will be live music and a healthy lifestyle expo full of triathlon-related companies and booths.
“I’m 50 percent excited for the race and 50 percent excited for the camping, watching other people race and the expo,” Morehardt said.
Even so, Morehardt said one of the most exciting parts of the weekend is watching the start of the races.
“The start is chaos,” Morehardt said. “Compared to all the other triathlons during the season, it’s the biggest start. You get kicked in the face, your feet pulled; it’s just madness. It’s nuts.”
During the races, volunteers hand out water, help at aid stations and cheer on the triathletes.
“I volunteered freshman year and it was really fun,” Morehardt said. “Both experiences (volunteering and racing) are a blast. Just being there is really cool. Everyone there at some point during the weekend is going to push themselves to the limit, so it’s pretty cool to be around that.”
While Wildflower will fall on Cinco de Mayo weekend, Morehardt said he does not think there will be any problems. “The volunteers are going to party just as much as if it were Cinco de Mayo or not — I mean, it’s Wildflower.”
For volunteers, “You’re lucky if you can get to sleep by 2 a.m.,” Morehardt said. “And then at 5 a.m., they bring fire trucks and ambulances and set the sirens off and go around and shake your tents to wake you up.”
However, “people always get their act together for race day,” Morehardt said.
Morehardt said the race would not be possible without all of the volunteers from Cal Poly.
At least 573 greek-affiliated volunteers signed up to help at the events this weekend.
Chris Nielson, a history and political science sophomore and member of Delta Chi fraternity, said that volunteering at Wildflower is a fun way to earn spring quarter volunteer hours required for the fraternity.
“A lot of guys like going, volunteering and helping out,” said Nielson, who will be attending Wildflower for the second time.
The most inspirational part of Wildflower is helping the athletes finish their race, Nielson said. “It’s truly remarkable to help encourage runners who are pushing themselves to their limits — it’s incredible,” he said.
Allison Montroy contributed to this article.