Dedicated volunteer Kerry Kunzli prefers wheels to running shoes.
Kerry Kunzli might spend more time with his feet clipped into pedals than on the ground, but that doesn’t stop him from enlisting as a volunteer for the BMO Vancouver Marathon.
The cycling coach and father of three is a founding member of Ride2Survive, a growing team of cyclists who journey from Kelowna to Delta, B.C. each year in support of the Canadian Cancer Society.
Kunzli’s dedication to the sport of cycling defines his volunteer role at the Marathon. Last year, Kunzli and about 30 other Ride2Survive team members, including his wife, Vicki, and two of their daughters, mounted bikes in their RUNCREW cycling jerseys to act as “the eyes and ears” for runners of the Marathon, Half Marathon, and 8KM races.
“It’s an important role,” Kunzli says of his position as Cycling Leader for the Half Marathon race. “I ride at the front of the pack to make sure the road ahead is clear and safe. I also radio updates to the command center—this could be anything from runner injuries to obstacles on the course that should be removed” like fallen branches or, heaven forbid, unwieldy seagulls.
Always on the lookout, Kunzli’s Cyclist Crew gets satisfaction from ensuring runners are safe and within course boundaries. A serious task, but Kunzli says another draw of the position is also being able “have a blast” on race day. From his unique position amidst a group of the race’s fastest Elite Runners, Kunzli breathes in the celebratory atmosphere, charged by nearly 90,000 spectators and upbeat Entertainment Stations. When asked if he and his team will return as volunteers in the 2014 event, Kunzli answers “absolutely” without hesitation.
The intersection between cycling and running in the city of Vancouver is an obvious one. Vancouver’s expansive parks, seaside trails, and pedestrian-only paths make the city an ideal location for both sports. Kunlzi enjoys observing the close relationship between cycling and running on Race Day.
“Both sports are about endurance,” he says. “It’s inspiring to see the effort in a runner’s face, as it motivates me in my own race.”
Kunzli hardly seems like a cyclist in need of more motivation. About ten years ago, he got together with 16 others to ride the gruelling 400-km route from Kelowna to Delta in one day. The group has since founded Ride2Survive, a non-profit that has raised over $2.5 million for cancer research.
In 2013, the charity teamed up with The Vancouver International Marathon Society (that’s us!) to help lead runners safely across the Finish Line in May.
“Volunteering with the Cyclist Crew is a great way for us to practice our ride-leading capabilities,” says Kunzli, whose perceptive eye, leadership, and problem-solving skills make him an invaluable volunteer. Kunzli encourages experienced cyclists to enlist as volunteers, too, and advises others to “come out for the training rides before the race to get comfortable with the course.”
At the end of the day, Kunzli points out, his role is about creating a fun and safe environment for runners. And the best part? It’s an excellent way to stay in shape: the Cyclist Crew logs a combined distance of about 1,240 kilometres on Race Day—that’s about five return trips from Vancouver to Whistler!
“Even though you’re riding at a slower pace than you normally would, you’re still exhausted by the end of the day,” Kunzli says. “It’s a great workout and great fun.”
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