99 help this year

by: Photo By Joe McHaney - MAC Dash volunteer Margee O’Brien of Madras encourages an athlete at the finish line Sept. 10 during the fourth annual event that drew 190 athletes.

Only one person -- Madras' Margee O'Brien -- could be heard consistently over music and announcers last Saturday during the fourth annual MAC Dash sprint triathlon and duathlon.
   Her voice carried loud and clear at the finish line with words of encouragement and praise for every single finisher of the event that featured 190 athletes.
   "I see people in town and they tell me, you're the one at the finish line with big smiles," O'Brien said of why she is so animated. "I'm exhausted by the end of the day, but to see the looks on people's faces is worth every minute."
   O'Brien was one of 99 volunteers who gave time to the event last week that has become one of Madras' largest.
   "We printed 100 T-Shirts for volunteers and when we were done handing out shirts, we had one left," said MAC Dash committee member Suzy El-Attar. "We were shocked and it's just so awesome to have that many people wanting to help."
   The volunteers are the heartbeat of the MAC Dash, without them, there would be no event.
   "It's petty incredible because some of the volunteers have helped with the event all four years," MAC Dash committee member Lonnie Henderson said. "The volunteers are apart of this community, and they really make the MAC Dash special."
   The event was created four years ago by a group of community members wanting to promote physical fitness and raise funds for Madras Aquatic Center youth activities. In the inaugural MAC Dash, just over 60 volunteers showed up to help and the numbers have increased each year to nearly 100 volunteers.
   "It's very special to see young people volunteering and we owe a lot to the ROTC," O'Brien said. "We would be dead in the water without the ROTC because they do a lot of work."
   The MAC Dash triathlon features a 500-yard swim, a 12-mile road bike and a 3-mile run. The MAC Dash also consists of a duathlon course and a Mini MAC Dash course for kids.
   "It takes a lot of volunteers directing athletes," Henderson said. "We have volunteers scattered all over town to help point people in the right direction."
   Enolla Flores also works extremely hard during the MAC Dash. She has volunteered all four years and is a certified flagger for the South Adams-Crestview intersection that is the busiest intersection on the triathlon course.
   "I keep coming back, and I just want to keep people safe," Flores said. "I'm interested in the swimming pool surviving and I think the MAC Dash is a great thing for the pool."
   The MAC Dash is centered around the MAC. The event begins in the pool and the MAC is the centerpiece for the event.
   "I was able to be a part of establishing the MAC Dash and it's a fantastic triathlon," said Grant Hayball, who is a two-time male winner and former MAC general manager. "The pool is awesome, but what really makes this triathlon is the volunteers because they make it run so smoothly."
   El-Attar, Henderson, along with Bobby DeRoest, Carrie Dunten, Angela Harris, Jim Gemelas, Tammy Gregory, Stan Nowakowski, Maura Schwartz and Leo Tsou make up the MAC Dash committee, and they too are volunteers. They work year round to prepare for the MAC Dash and they don't receive paychecks.
   "The MAC Dash committee does a fantastic job and this event is just a great way to end the summer," O'Brien said.
   The atmosphere created by the MAC Dash is special. It's a family event with positive energy. O'Brien and Florees are two of many volunteers that symbolizes what the MAC Dash is all about.
   "I'm impressed with the MAC Dash because it's a family event and a compelling atmosphere," O'Brien said. "It's says a lot about our community to see this many volunteers helping out."
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