Volunteerism is a big part of ultrarunning. I look forward to volunteer at races as much as I look forward to running them. The races would not go on if we didn't have volunteers to take care of the runners.
A few months ago I cleared my schedule to volunteer to Eugene Curnow Trail Marathon (formerly Half Voyager). I've run the race many times, in fact, it was my first trail race many many years ago, back in 2000. I was looking forward to it.
The trail running community is booming! This is SO good. We need new people to come into the sport, to keep it alive, to keep it breathing. Although I may sometimes complain that the trails are sometimes crowded and that I recall fond memories when only 18 of us finished Superior 100, that doesn't mean that I dislike the growth. I don't. I welcome it and love to guide new trail runners to the best of my ability. I remember what it was like to be new to trails.
There were 429 finishers at Curnow this year! The race sold out and I don't think that has ever happened before.
I was assigned to Forbay, Aid Station 7 (out of 8) along the way from the Duluth Zoo to Carlton. It's a beautiful trail with bridges, powerlines, rivers, grass, dirt, rocks and a whole lot of heat and humidity. There was no rain, little mud. Lots of fun and friends.
Jamison Swift photo
I arrived to Forbay for duty at 745. Jamison was captain, Lisa was medical, Lynnea was assigned to cross guard duty-out in the beating sun. I was under the shaded canopy tending to the supplies. I cut watermelon, bananas and oranges. Filled up potato chip, grape, candies and pretzel bowls. Made sure there was plenty of Coke, 7up, Gingerale poured.
We had cowbells to ring as the runners arrived to our station, lots of hugs, congrats, filling of packs and bottles. Reminding runners to take salt, to eat, to drink. I was shocked that at least a dozen of the runners didn't have a water bottle or hydration vest. They were only drinking at the stations which were spaced out from 2.4 to 5 miles. On this hot day that was just too long to go without water, in my opinion. However, I always seem to error on the side of caution. A few runners sat down under our canopy to get out of the sun. We offered ice for hats, bras and buffs. Nobody dropped at our station (mile 20.5) everyone continued on.
It was so much fun to see so many of the people I love and the new ones that I'm getting to know. It was like one big friend banquet. I had to laugh as I was in the shade sweating to death and as I'd hug a runner friend they'd exclaim 'oh, you are so hot' yeah. I'm hot and sweaty and not running and standing here in the shade. We'd laugh. This must have happened 15 times! Menopause you know. Hot flash city.
Such a great day, great friends, great fun. Volunteer. Give back to your sport! You'll love it just as much as I do.