Sunday, June 28, 2009

Running With the Devil Volunteerisms

Uh... did I say INTENSE? Well my measly 3 miler is laughable compared to what I saw out at mile 20/30!

After my race I headed 20 miles out to my station. I'll be with a girl named Kim. Luckily, ours had a canopy to set up for shade - woohoo! Since the runners turn around at mile 25, we were also their mile 30 stop. I was scheduled for 8:45am - 4:15pm. We had bananas to cut, animal crackers, oranges and pretzles. There were 6 cut PB&J sandwiches in the cooler but only 3 made it out alive. The other 3 were soggy and soaked with water. I decided to wait to eat my own PB&J sandwich in case the runners needed it. There was also boiled potatoes that thanks to the heat ended up mashed potatoes instead. And salt to serve with those... They ended up not getting put to use. We found out later that one of the aid station's potatoes did the same thing and they rolled them into balls - smart people... they're so annoying :o)~ We also had asprin, vaseline and stix, electrolyte pills, banana and raspberry hammer gels, heed, cola and LOTS and LOTS... and LOOOOOTS of water and ice. There was a huge bucket that we kept filled with ice water and washcloths. And there was an ice water sprayer. Joyce's crew even went as far as to put a little mini can of pepsi in the box that we could open and put way off to the side to attract the bees away from our station. That didn't work well but it was clever. At the end of the day we ended up with a pepsi can, an orange peel and a cup of heed off in the desert trying to get those damn things to leave! As it heated up... they went away. Weak animals I tell ya.

Dan Kuch is the man... as always in almost every race he comes to. He came up first. We greeted every runner about 50 feet out with 2 cups of water and I would grab their water bottle(s), ask them what they wanted in it and run back to the aid station to get it started for them. I'd fill their bottle all the way with ice and then whatever drink they desired. A lot of them drank a small cup of pepsi cola. We only had one bottle and ran out fast! I felt bad as they all asked on the way back if we had anymore. Next year, if I'm out that far again, I will bring a few extra bottles.

Some would sit, some would just get their water and move along. Some peed. Some gave up at this point. The runners were all very very friendly and grateful. Every time they thanks us, we thanked them. They are such an inspiration. They are doing all the hard work. The least we can do is soak them with water, throw ice in their hat and serve them with water and food. In that sweltering heat, to make it 20 miles... it's completely admirable... or maybe insane. I can't figure it out yet.

Keep in mind through this that we're at mile 20 and before us was mile 16-something, and before that was mile 11-something. The next aid station from us was mile 22 and then 25. That's where they turn around and then they have an aid station at 28, 30, 33-something, and then 37- or 38-something.

The second guy came up, we'll call him "orange guy" because he was wearing an orange shirt, and he was really not feeling well. He felt very sick to his stomach and needed to sit and stay for a while. By doing this he lost his place and once he took off he was then in 4th place. It's ok though, you're not out there to beat anyone but yourself and Mr.Sun.

Lots more runners come. Then we get this one guy, kinda young, maybe in his 20s. We'll call him "green guy" because.. you guessed it... he was wearing a green shirt. He isn't feeling well either. Keeps saying he's going to throw up. He sits for a long time and then finally decides to leave. We're serving runners and all of a sudden, he comes back. I'm thinking "wow that was a fast 10 miles back", but as it turns out, he didn't make it more than a few feet from our station before deciding he was done the race. He sat at our station, I called Joyce to see if we had someone to pick him up, and in that time another runner was sitting there and said "i'm done too". Okie dokie then... This man was an older guy, he's been running since the 1970s. He's run a 6-day race with over 100 miles, biked a 100-miler race, has done multiple long distance races and some triathlons. We're not talking about inexperienced runners here, and they're unable to go on. It was green guy's first 50-miler though. So finally, with no one to drive them back, I decide I'm going to. I had to pull over to let green guy puke, but once he did that he was SO much better. He sounded and looked better too.

I drop them off at Boulder Beach and pick up tons of ice for my cluster of aid stations on Northshore Drive. I head back out and drop it all off. Then back to my aid station 20. Poor Kim had to be left by herself, but lucky for us as the runners were turning around, they spaced out and were trickling through rather than rushing in all at once. As I'm driving back to 20 from 22&25, I take note that there are about 10 runners still to come through our station, which is now mile 30 for them. Some were sitting on the side of the road, many were walking.

Ambulances were driving around and were parked all over the place. Police SUVs were patrolling the area to make sure no one passed out on the side of the road. It was well-manned and great precautions were taken to make sure all runners were safe and cared for.

As we get to the last few runners left, a truck pulls up and drops off one of them. He's spent. Slurring his words and dizzy. Again I call Joyce. All ambulances are busy on calls and we have to wait it out. We keep him cool with iced washcloths, and drinking water. Within a few minutes, mile 22/28 volunteers come by to let us know how many runners we have left, and we have them take this guy back. We've been fortunate with getting runners back to Boulder Beach quickly and I'm grateful for our canopy that provided a shaded station for them to sit at.

As we're down to waiting on one more runner to come through, we start packing away the unneeded stuff. And lucky for that last runner - we literally had JUST enough ice left for her! It was exactly the perfect amount to fill her bottle.

After completely tearing everything down, I head to station 16 to see if they need our leftover heed and food. There a runner comes up and decides he's also done running. Perfect timing buddy! I'm heading back that way now.

I get back to the finish line @ Boulder Beach and I start looking around for some of my 50-milers to see who's come in... no one I see except for Dan Kuch's name up on the results listings posted so far. He did the 50 miles in 6:50! That's a steady average pace of 8-something a mile for 50 MILES... I don't even know what to say. Just imagine !!!!!!&^*&%&^%^$%^!!!!! going off in my head. I then see orange guy! I go over to give him a high-5 and say great job when he looks down and tell me how he only made it to mile 41 and had to stop :( I felt bad for him because it seemed he saw more that he didn't go the extra 9 rather than he DID go 41. I just wanted to shake him it into him how awesome he did. Hopefully he was just out of it from the heat, disappointed for the moment and will realize in the following days how amazing he really is.

Overall - the volunteer part of yesterday was THE most rewarding experience. Those runners, whether they finish or not, they gave it all they had and tried their hardest. I am in complete awe of each of them and I hope they can all feel accomplished in what they did.

Everything at our aid station was needed and used. Lots of ice in hat requests, sweet cravings kicked in and as I said the cola went fast, then the runners resorted to raspberry hammer gel. Vaseline got popular when they hit us as mile 30. Electrolyte pills and asprin came in handy. We officially shut down around 3-something pm.

P.S. Green guy, if you're out there... you left your water bottle in my car.


mamawantsasixpack said...

Wowzers! I got tired just reading that. What an awesome experience for you!

robison52 said...

I admire the volunteers who serve others so they can're really are an unsung hero to me!

I still haven't done an ultra race yet, and "Running With the Devil" would be too scary HOT for me and can't imagine why those newbies chose this monster race for their first ultra.

Coach KBeans said...

oh shucks.. stop it lol you make me blush.

A lot of them finished.. eventhough a lot fo them didn't also.

The results are posted!