Sunday, April 26, 2009

Another First: Ultra Aid Station Worker

Yesterday Wynn Davis hosted the Chippewa 50K Ultra Marathon in Chippewa Falls, WI. I told Wynn early this year that I would volunteer for his race. I was assigned to work Aid Station Number 5, the half way point of the 50K.

The course is an out and back and the aid station was a perfect place for me to be! I was looking forward to a different perspective on the race.

I have volunteered at packet pickups before, at finish lines, but never at an aid station. The only downfall was that the day was forecast to be cool and rainy..all day long. Thank goodness forecasters can be wrong.

As I drove into Taylor Falls the rain that had been falling since I left Big Lake stopped. They sky was even beginning to lighten up a bit, or maybe it was just dawn.

I arrived at the Ice Age Interpretative Center, the race start/finish an hour before my scheduled duty at the aid station. I was able to watch the race begin and then walked over to a section of trail where I could watch the runners come through at about 2 miles.

The trail was in great condition! It felt soft, not an over used hard trail. It had rained the day before but was not real muddy. It looked to be in great condition for the race. Now, last year the trail had been under inches of snow for the race. The race had been held two weeks earlier, same time as McNaughton, and some even snowshoed the 50K! Not this year. No snow, no rain, just a lovely day. It was about 50F, mostly cloudy..perfect for most of the runners.

At 2 miles the first person coming up the trail was John Storkamp; he had on his game face, he was ready to run hard. Pretty soon it was Andy Holak, Chris Gardner, Matt Howard..I think these 4 were top 4 at the end of the race as well! First girl was Helen Lavin and she took first girl as well. Good work! I asked Helen to compare her time this year with last year and she thought with the snow it was a good hour slower. Adam stated the same, about an hour difference in time.

I then headed over to my aid station that I was working with Londell, Lynn and Darrell. Lynn and Darrell worked this one last year so pretty much put the whole site together and prepared the food. I was given the task of number recorder. We weren't giving aid station splits so I only had to cross out the bib number as it came into the turn around.

What a great gig! I had my water, Bonnie gave me coffee, I had a chair when I felt like sitting down, I just hung out and visited.

John arrived first, slammed a Red Bull and was on his way. It was wonderful to be able to see each and every runner come into the aid station. I had wished I printed off a list of entrants so that I would know who to expect. I was told that Joann was with Maria, Lynette and Kathy. When I saw a petite blonde enter the area I assumed it was Jo, yelling Jo Jo Jo, and here it was Dawn Long! Oops. Embarrassing! If I had known Dawn was running I would have known it was Dawn. When I saw Matt come into the aid station and congratulated him on finishing Arrowhead I should have figured Dawn would be coming. After that I didn't yell out names until I could clearly see and recognize faces! Sorry, Dawn.

What a blast. I visited and hugged and sent the runners back out on their run back home. Molly stayed for quite a while, working out the stiffness in her legs, until Matt P gave her such a bad time that she decided to get a move on.

Our aid station was closing at 1 so at about 1230 I began to run down the trail and came across our final runner. We jogged back to the aid station and began closing down shop.

Don and Bonnie were sweeping so they were heading out for their run toward the finish line. I wished I was going along with them.

Back at the finish I watched for quite a while, took part in more visiting and congratulating the finishers. I then changed into running clothes and ran some of the trail myself. What a beauty. Heavily wooded, lots of hills and the lakes! There were lakes all over the place. I'll have to drive out there to run the course some time, it was absolutely beautiful.

Wynn put on a great race, I was happy to be part of it! Congratulations to all of you runners, job well done!


Kel said...

Thanks so much for volunteering - it was great to see a familiar face cheering when we got to the turn around!

The trail was gorgeous - must be stunning when the fall colors are near peak. I definately recommend getting out there to see the whole course yourself :}

JojaJogger said...

Aid station volunteers rock! Just wanted to let you know that your Magic Foot Potion got me through my first Ultra blister free. Thank you!

nwgdc said...

Thanks for your help! I would have said hello and introduced myself at the aid station, but Matt P was yelling at me--"YOU CAN CHAT WHEN YOU'RE DONE RUNNING!"

Thanks again!

Carl Gammon said...

I want to add my thanks for you being out there. It's always great to see a happy, smiling face.

SteveQ said...

You have a new post label of "volunteer" - is that a sign of things to come? Thanx for being out there.