28 Apr Staying Vertical with Mary Pusztai and Diane Jones
On Tuesday, April 27th, High Five Events’ William Dyson, sat down with volunteer extraordinaires Mary Pusztai and Diane Jones to understand why they volunteer, learn whose favorite athlete is Matthew McConaughey, and hear their craziest volunteer stories.
William Dyson – Good afternoon ladies. Thanks for stopping by our new office! Not only am I glad that y’all are here right now, but High Five Events is beyond appreciative of your time! Let’s start this interview off with an easy question. What’s your current job?
Mary Pusztai – I work in Physical Design and generate modules for NXP. I’m proud to say we’re the presenting sponsor for the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon. I’m in my 35th year!
Diane Jones – I’m retired! I spent 18 years with Texas Mutual Insurance Company as a buyer.
WD – Why do you take the time to volunteer for endurance events?
MP – I work in front of computer all week. I enjoy being out and about, moving around, and interacting with people. I used to run, but now I do more volunteering than running.
DJ – I volunteer because I like the events. I enjoy the people and their energy. I find it fascinating to see the behind-the-scenes action and to be able to see how events are put together.
WD – How long have the two of your been volunteering with H5E?
DJ – I’ve been doing this for one year. But keeping an eye on Mary makes it seem like much longer!
MP – HA! I’ve been volunteering with High Five for four and a half years, but this last year with Diane has been the toughest!
WD – You two are an absolute riot. What was your first volunteer experience/event with H5E?
MP – I believe my first event was Jack’s Generic Tri. We were doing packet pick up in the August heat at the old Jack and Adam’s. My memory is still fuzzy from the heat!
DJ – My first event was the Trail of Lights in 2014. At the time I wasn’t accustomed to smaller events. I was used to larger events with larger expos, like the Cap10K. I remember thinking how things were on a much smaller scale compared to Cap10K.
WD – What’s the next event on your calendar?
MP – You can find the two of us this weekend at The Rookie Tri. We’ll be at packet pick up.
DJ – Yep, Rookie Tri. We’ll be there with bells and whistles making sure all the rookies are ready to go!
WD – Imagine you can volunteer for one H5E the rest of your life. Which one is it? Why?
DJ – My event would be the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon. It’s always been a well-organized event. The energy it brings to the city is unlike anything else. There’s a big-time atmosphere feel and runners are stoked. You can always tell the first time runners because they’re so eager. There are always folks rushing through the door when the expo first opens.
MP – If I have to choose one event I’m choosing IRONMAN Austin. It has a different feel to me. People come to Austin from all over. I enjoy hearing them tell their stories. Triathletes are pretty amazing!
WD – What’s normally your role at an event?
MP – We’re normally at packet pick up making sure everything goes according to plan.
DJ – Yep, packet pick up. I enjoy seeing all the runners get their packets.
WD – What’s the craziest volunteer story from your experiences?
DJ – It’d have to be with the Austin Marathon. There was something where you needed to show your military ID and we had this guy who adamantly refused to show his ID card to prove his military credentials. I wasn’t trying to steal his identity!
MP – Mine was at the Austin Marathon too. It was closing time and this guy was yelling at me saying how the expo should be open later. I told him I didn’t have any control over that!
WD – How many volunteer shirts have you received over the years?
DJ – I have to be close to 100, but I’ve also given many away. I will normally cycle them out once a year.
MP – Hundreds. Way too many to count. I’ll also give most away. Otherwise my whole house would be volunteer shirts!
WD – What do you enjoy most outside of volunteering?
MP – I really like seeing movies, especially if they’re free screenings! The last film I saw was Captain America: Civil War. It’ll come out in May.
DJ – Outside of volunteering I’m a homebody. I like to stay home and be with the dog. I also like to cross stitch, shop, and play bingo. When I get the chance I travel to Mississippi to visit my mom. My husband and I are traveling to North Carolina in a few weeks.
WD – Favorite athlete?
DJ – (immediate response) Matthew McConaughey. I remember that time he ran the Nike Human Race with Lance Armstrong.
MP – He’s not an athlete! Even though he hasn’t done too well lately, my favorite athlete is Rafael Nadal.
WD – Favorite place to be outside in Austin?
MP – No doubt Hula Hut. Good food next to the water, what more could you want?!
DJ – County Line for me. The smells are amazing!
WD – Ladies, as you know, volunteers are vital to endurance events, expos, and packet pick ups. Without them events wouldn’t exist. I want to thank you for sitting down with me today and for generously giving your time to our events. Your energy is contagious and your back-and-forth banter is hilarious! I look forward to many future events. Who knows, maybe Matthew McConaughey will do one of our events! See y’all this weekend.
DJ – Thanks for having us and for your kind words. Next time there’d better be drinks and snacks! See you Friday.
MP – Thanks for having us to your new office. We enjoyed the tour and love the new space. We’ve enjoyed getting to know you and are excited about what High Five Events has in store.
Staying Vertical is an interview session with various individuals within the running/triathlon community hosted by William Dyson, High Five Events Communications Manager. Staying Vertical will showcase the perspective of runners, triathletes, sponsors, partners, event producers, and volunteers and understand what makes them tick. We will highlight their involvement and give the running community an inside look into the individuals that are just like you and me.