Sunday, March 23, 2008

Volunteering at Rucky Chucky 50K

(ed. note: results can be found here)

Yesterday dawned beautiful as I arrived in Foresthill at 7:00am. It was hard seeing runners preparing themselves for a fun (and for some, long) day on the trail knowing I wasn't to join them. But I quickly found myself handing out t-shirts and finally being able to put faces to so many of the wonderful names I've read about in the ultrarunning circle.

Beverly Anderson-Abbs was there ready to destroy the course. Popular bloggers Scott Dunlap, Peter Lubbers, and Mark Tanaka were also there sporting nifty camelbacks. Lots of talk about the first (and last) 14 miles being without aid due to the inability to reach the aid station because of winter rains washing out the road. But one thing about ultrarunners, they tend to be self-sufficient and able to deal with adversity when needed.

From l: ? (sorry), Bev A-A, and Scott Dunlap

After a short speech by RD Robert Mathis, the runners headed off down Main St; next stop Rucky Chucky!

RD Robert talking about the importance of water

Mark prepping his watch

And they're off!
I hadn't given much thought to what happens at an ultrarun after the runners take off. Usually it's pretty straight forward for me, you run until you finish. Being on the other side of the coin as a volunteer opened my eyes to what goes into putting on one of these events. It's all about the food! Lots of food. After getting the raffle prizes sorted out, I found myself on KP duty, preparing chili, spaghetti, green beans, salad and a myriad of other things. A young boy whose parents were both running was in charge of the Cuisinart and he was happy to cut up anything we could give him. He was a big help. Before we knew it, we had about 8 crock-pots full of food, warmed and ready for the 111 runners who took off about 4 1/2 hours earlier (there were 85 solo runners, and 13 relay teams of two).

Linda Mathis, Linda Bennett, and Matt on KP duty

Sorting out the raffle prizes
With the food preparation done, we got ready for the finish. Francesca Stone, her friend Isabella (?), and myself were in charge of recording runners and their times as they finished. I was in charge of keeping track of over-all winners plus age groupers. The runners were kind enough to space themselves out nicely that it was never a problem keeping track of everyone.

Mark finishing strong
Mark Tanaka was the first solo runner to make his way back up Main St in 4:43. He was full of smiles and seemed quite surprised that he had won. His quote: "if I'd known I was going to win I wouldn't have snowboarded so hard yesterday". He cracks me up. His phone didn't get any cell reception so I loaned him mine so he could call his family and tell them the good news. It was fun getting to know him after reading his hilarious stories on his blog.

Hey honey, guess what!
Beverly Anderson-Abbs was the first woman to finish and was 3rd over-all in 4:50. What an incredible athlete. After getting cleaned up she parked herself near the finish line to watch others finish and visit.

It soon became apparent that the weather was taking its toll on runners as the day warmed up. Most of the time there was a nice up-canyon breeze blowing that I hope psychologically helped propel runners up the hill. Scott Dunlap finished a little slower than I expected (but then that's silly because I really didn't have any idea what to expect and it turns out he finished 4 minutes faster than 2005) and after hearing his story, I understand why. I'll let him explain his trailside antics on his blog. Let me just say that a couple hours after he finished, he was still sitting at the same table where he planted himself after the finish :)

Scott Dunlap finishes in 5:17

Peter Lubbers stops his watch at 5:45
Around 3:30 I decided to call it a day and get home to my family for some easter egg decorating. I really missed not running but I know I made the right decision. Especially after seeing how much I was able to help. It really made me feel good knowing I was able to take some of the load off of Robert and Linda who do so much for the sport of ultrarunning. Hopefully, the next time I see them will be as a runner. But in the meantime, I encourage anyone who has the chance to, volunteer at an event. It'll open your eyes.


Peter Lubbers said...

Thanks for volunteering, Catherine -- it was nice to see you again. I hope the extra rest will help in a few weeks at AR50.
Happy Easter!

Urban Run @ Yoppi said...

Kudos for helping out! Your post was awesome and I have volunteered at races and directed low-key running events in San Francisco. It does take a lot of time and dedication from yourself and others, which runners don't normally (or don't care) to see. Good luck with your season and have fun at AR50! I love that race.


Mark Tanaka (Ultrailnakaman) said...

Domo arigato Catherine for all your volunteer efforts. Didn't realize you also helped with all the yummy food too! Great report and photos (we all runners will appreciate the start line shots, and wow, 4 of me, I think that's a record). And the cell phone call (I actually never told her I won until she asked). Go Verizon! Thanks repeatedly (and to everyone else who helped out).

Given how extra sore I am now, you probably made the right medical/physical choice too--that's a thrasher course, so I agree it was good to give yourself more recuperation for AR50. Hope you train and taper well--will look for you in the pre-and post- crowds.

Scott Dunlap said...

Thanks for supporting us! That was great of you to come out and help. I bet the rest will do wonders for you, and I can't wait to hear how AR50 goes. Happy Easter!


Adelyn said...

Sounds like it was a great time out there! I've volunteered twice and had a blast both times. I should really do it again, especially since I haven't been up for running :)

Love the pictures. It's alwasy great to put those faces to blogger names