The hundreds of volunteers needed for the USA Pro Challenge cycling race in Aspen on Aug. 19 through 21 will undergo mandatory training that includes “terrorism alerts,” according to organizers.
‘It’s kind of stemming, obviously, from the Boston Marathon events,” said Blair Weyer, public information officer for the Aspen Police Department.
Terrorists used two pressure cookers to make bombs that exploded near the finish line of the iconic marathon. The bombs killed three people and injured 264.
The training for the Aspen volunteers will include how to recognize suspicious packages or people, the proper way of reporting suspicions and to whom to report them, Weyer said. The training is designed to help people “be vigilant but not overreactive,” she said.
Weyer was uncertain whether the training was requested by Aspen officials or whether volunteers in all host cities of the cycling event are required to participate.
The training will be provided by the Center for Empowered Living and Learning, also known as The Cell. It is a nonprofit organization based in Denver. The privately funded anti-terrorism center is a subsidiary of Denver’s Mizel Museum, founded by Denver businessman and philanthropist Larry Mizel.
The website for The Cell touts its Community Awareness Program, or CAP. The program “is a free, interactive program designed to provide citizens with the basic tools needed to recognize and help prevent terrorism and criminal activity within our communities,” according to the website. “Taught by public safety professionals, CAP participants are trained to spot certain behaviors and situations. The CAP takes special care to ensure the civil liberties protected by our Constitution are preserve.”
The program was designed in accordance with and in support of the Department of Homeland Security’s “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign.
Melanie Pearlman, the executive director of the organization, didn’t return a telephone message seeking comment on specific training for the Pro Challenge.
Weyer noted that Colorado State Patrol troopers were scheduled to receive training from The Cell today.
The Pro Challenge has enlisted more than 150 volunteers for Aug. 19, when there will be a circuit race in the Aspen area by the top male cyclists in the world. There are more than 100 volunteers signed up for Aug. 20, when the racers will leave Aspen and climb Independence Pass.
Linda Gerdenich, co-chairwoman of the volunteer committee, said scores more volunteers are needed for both race days and pre-race organizing.
“We’re very pleased with the response; however, we need more,” she said.
About 250 course marshals alone are needed for the circuit race, she said, and 75 course marshals are needed for the climb up Independence Pass.
Volunteers also are needed for security, the media room, hospitality, parking and ambassadors. Before the race, volunteers are needed starting Aug. 14 for everything from stuffing gift bags to serving meals for cycling-team members on training days before the races.
Gerdenich said cycle racing fans from as far as California, New Mexico and Connecticut have volunteered, though the majority are from the Roaring Fork Valley.
Go to www.aspenupcc.com for more information or to register as a volunteer.