Today I participated in a different aspect of trail racing; volunteering. It felt odd to wake up early, to shower and put on street clothing to head to a race. No pre-race jitters, no wishing I could poop prior to the race start, no fretting over the weather and what should I wear. Just low key, low stress fun.
I pulled into the park at 545 AM, popped out of my car and into Curt, from Big Lake, and his wife. Curt was running the 50K today. Last year was his first 50K at Trail Mix, then he went on to run the Superior 50K and today was back to the Trail Mix. He finished in fine form. I was able to watch him finish and did a cheer for him. Good work, Curt!
I found OC, Race Director, and was told to work the packet pick up area until 10 and then head to the finish line.
Trail Mix consists of a 50K beginning at 7, a 25K beginning at 730 and a 4 person relay team, each running 7.5 miles and 930. I was amazed that so many people came in to get their packets with only a minute or three before race start. Wow! I guess since I typically show up 45 minutes before the start that I assumed everyone else did it. One man who was entered in the 50K (7AM) came in at 9, said he overslept but wanted his shirt. I told him to "Start running Dude!" I think he just wanted the shirt, but didn't really want to run. Good lord.
I was able to see all of my friends at packet pickup. The volunteers commented that I seemed to know everyone. I was having so much fun. I even recognized some people from blogs that I have been reading (Iron Jenny!) and many people came up to me, telling me that they had left me email and posts here. I remembered them all, it was great to put a face to an email.
After working packet pickup I was anxious to check out the finish line. I wanted to catch Eve cross the finish line and I was worried I was going to miss her. I went up to the finish at 940 and put together finisher bags. As the 25K runners finished we had a line going: take a bag, add Powerade, yell out a shirt size, add the shirt and give to the person up front to give the runner. It went pretty smoothly. It was great to meet and work with the group of volunteers. Many of them had been volunteering at this race for many years and they all had great stories to tell me! I worked the finish tent until 1045 and then had to get out and see what Eve was doing.
I found a spot at the bottom of the hill near the finish and hung tight. Sure enough, after 10 minutes I saw her! Here came Eve!! I yelled and danced and screamed. She was a focused machine. Pumping arms, looking straight ahead, she powered up that last hill and into the finish line. BREAKING THE WOMAN'S RECORD AND TAKING FIRST PLACE. 4:00:11. Rock on Eve! Isn't she something special? I ran in for a hug and congratulations and she is ready to run some more. Full of energy and smiles, she just rocks. It was great fun spending the rest of the afternoon with Eve. I just love her.
I didn't realize that Wynn Davis took FIRST overall in 3:25 until later when I saw him holding his trophy! How embarrassing for me. I had been speaking with him earlier, right after his finish, and he was congratulating me on McNaughton, I congratulated him on his run, but didn't realize it was first place! Finally I realized it and went up to tell him congrats! Good job, Wynn! Sorry I was such a ditz.
We hung out and watched our friends finish the race. Tom, Nancy, Kate and Chris had finished the 25k while I was in the tent. We watched Kevin finish in 445! His first 50K was at Afton last year and here he is running a 445! Sheesh. Good job, Kevin. And Scott! Man! Running a 5:00 PR. Scott, that is so great! Scott, you had an awesome race. Good work :) We watched Pierre come in, Alicia, Jeffrey, Karen, Greg and Jason. We were doing cheers and just having an absolute blast. I had a fantastic super day. I feel SO blessed to know all of these great friends of mine.
Something reminded me of where I've come from and how lucky I am to be where I am today. I saw a class mate that I graduated with at the race today. I haven't seen her since graduation, I suppose..ah, 1983, you know. We were standing at the finish line and I kept looking at her. I told Eve "I think I graduated with that girl. I think I'll ask her if she is Paula" Well, it was Paula! I couldn't believe it. I was shocked. I have never run into someone from High School at a running event. I'm a different person since then. Well, most of us are. Paula asked me about the best friends that I hung out with in High School. After I told her about them I realized how lucky I am now. My past best friend committed suicide, one is in prison, one is addicted to meth and who knows where she is. Maybe dead, maybe prison. Who knows. I told Paula "I got clean, got sober..and started running" Thank God.