Saturday, November 20, 2010

Can't run, then volunteer.... November 13, 2010

 I have been looking forward to this race because it is 10 minutes from where I use to live (and only 40 minutes from where I currently live).  It's the last race of the season for the series that is put on by the local Trail Store.  It's the Siltstone Half Marathon located in Jefferson Memorial Forest in the South end of Louisville.  Since my foot was still not 100% and I also had a doctor's appt. the following Tuesday, I sent an email to Jim Ball asking if they still needed volunteers.  (Jim owns The Trail Store and puts on the races, but also is a heck of a nice guy.  I enquired a few months earlier about any local trail running groups
around and he told me where he and few other guys ran on Saturday mornings.  He was kind enough to plod with me around the loop so I would know my way for future training runs.)  Anyhow, Jim said yes and to come on out. I have to say, I have never volunteered for a race.  I've volunteered for walk events and other assorted things, but was a little nervous.  I pulled Big Bird in the park right at 7 and found Jim and Karen setting up the tent.  I met a couple of other guys, who I can not remember their names, but one I met before with Jim at the group run.  Dang- I've got to find a way to remember people's names!  I mainly
stood around, wanting to be helpful, but there didn't seem to be anything really to do yet.  Jim did tell me I would be working the Bearcamp aid station.  The runners would come through our aid station twice, since it was an out and back.  Another runner was sidelined with a cold and she was going to be with me.  She, Valerie, helped me load up the bus and with the written directions in hand, we headed off to our destination.  Like I said, I use to live by the area, so I was familiar with the area.  We quickly found the trail head and we unloaded the table, coolers, water, Heed, and our chairs before I parked the bus in the
parking lot down the road.  I set about putting water in my cooler and Valerie measured and mixed the Heed for her cooler.  We quickly had our station set up and awaiting our first runner.  We weren't sure how many runners had signed up and we were going to try to keep count of how many come through.  That way we'd know about how many we were waiting on when they came back through the second time.  We sat and chatted and about 45 or 50 minutes, the first runner came through- shirtless even!  (I had a long sleeve shirt on, my jacket, hat, and gloves.)  He was cruising and Smiling!  It was about 5 minutes later before another runner came through, but after that they were pretty steady.  Everyone seemed to be having a great day and the last gentleman that came through (guy in white shirt above)- it was his first ever trail run.  Tom was enjoying his self so far.  After Tom went through we settled back into our chairs.  Valerie had brought a book to read (clever chick), but luckily for me, my Blackberry was with me and I caught up on some email reading.  (I tried to take pics of more runners, but stunk at moving objects- do better at landscapes apparently.)  Our only concern was that we might not have enough cups.  We discussed strategies and decided to try to refill people cups if they wanted more than one.  Which was way better than reusing-which was suggested.  (I'm sorry but to think that if I was in a race and then I found I had drank from a cup that someone else drank from- yep, that grosses me out.)  Not long, the shirtless guy came back through, still leading, still smiling.  Not as many other smiles on the way back through though.  This course has some hills that can really take their toll on you, and it was taking its toll.  We soon heard that there was a runner at the top of the hill with a possible broken foot.  I called Jim to let him know.  He was going to try to get the other aid station (which was the turn-around, and where the guy was closer too), but apparently they didn't have service.  So I volunteered to drive over to the aid station and see if we could get the guy down.  By the time I arrived, another runner had gave them the heads up and she was waiting for them to come down with the guy.  So I turned around and drove back to our aid station.  When I parked, I decided I better tend to nature.  (I have tp in my glove box.)  Soooo I found a good hiding spot, or the best you can in the fall, and watered the land so to speak.  I headed back to Valerie and she was still there reading her book.  I decided to check the trail for trash from our cups while we waited for our last runners.  Finally, we saw a white shirt at the crest of the hill.  Yep, Tom was coming down the hill.  He was still looking pretty good and smiling, but he asked if we had a vehicle there.  I told him yes, and he asked if he helped pick up, could he have a ride.  He had enjoyed his day, but he was ready to call it a day.  I went and pulled the bus up and we quickly had everything loaded and headed back to the start/finish line.  (Incidentally, I took the back roads to get back and almost ran a stop sign.  Think I scared my 2 passengers- oops.)  I quickly had Big Bird unloaded and the last finishers crossed the line and I stayed and help Jim and Karen pack up their stuff before heading home for a nap.  (Incidentally, did hear that another fellow broke his toe about 2-3 miles into the race- ouch)
  Although, I didn't get to run, I was glad I got a chance to give back to the sport and help other runners enjoy their race.  Turned out to be a really great day!

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