2007 ULTRA RUNNING ADVENTURES

 

   
 
Runtrails' Rocky Mountain Journal
 
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  PRE-RACE ACTIVITIES & MORE  

THURSDAY, JULY 12

 
"#8. Enjoy yourself!!!!!"
- one of ten Executive Rules Summary rules for runners in the Hardrock Hundred
 

 

Number one is "no whining." You can't say the HRH organizers don't have a good sense of humor!

They also take good care of the runners -- and volunteers -- in many ways before, during, and after the grueling race. Jim and I have participated as runners or volunteers in numerous ultras all around the country, and this is one of the best in which to be involved in either capacity.

My next four entries will highlight pre-race activities for the runners and volunteers, our aid station involvement, and photos of runners before, during, and after the race. If you know someone that I've not identified or incorrectly identified, please let me know. That CRS thing and all . . .

Let's start with yesterday's Potlick lunch.

THE "POTLICK"

I'm not sure how long the Wednesday afternoon potluck luncheon has been a Hardrock tradition, but we've sure enjoyed it the last two years. Andrea Feucht organizes this yummy feast for both the eyes and tummy. It is held for runners, volunteers, and all Hardrock friends who want to participate at the gazebo in the Silverton city park, rain or shine.

I was making melon balls around noon yesterday for "watermelon boats" (shown below) when all hail broke loose! There were lots of little ice pellets on the rug outside our camper. My first thought was relief that we weren't still up on Dives-Little Giant Pass! We wondered if the event would be cancelled or moved into the gym but since mountain weather is so "local" I kept on making melon balls. It might not even be raining four miles away in Silverton.

It was, but by the time we got there around 1:30 the rain had stopped and several folks had already congregated. More and more showed up, bearing tasty morsels to share with everyone else. I'd guess about three dozen people came and went in the hour and a half while we were there. Some of them are shown below:

Diana Widdowson, Jim, and Susi Weisshaar (Hans' wife -- not sure if that's her last name, too)

 

Robert Andrulis (in dark jacket, left rear)

 

Blake Wood (blue jacket in front), Deb Pero (front), Andrea Feucht (white shirt, second from right), James Varner (back to camera at far right)

 

Robert Andrulis (far left), Blake (far right)

 

Blake, Andrea, James, Ray Grunwald

 

Lois MacKenzie (yellow jacket), the aid station and volunteer coordinator; Flavio Dalbosco from Italy in the gray jacket on the right

 

Diana Widdowson (far left), Larry Hall (far right)

 

Steve Pero, Mike Dobies, Blake Wood on the left, John Prohira far right

 

Deb Pero (light blue jacket in center), Beth Simpson (blue jacket to the right)

As always, it was great fun to mix food and friendship with fellow runners.

AID STATION PREPARATIONS

MONDAY'S TENT-RAISING

I've mentioned previously that Jim has spent a lot of time the past few months planning for our aid station (AS) at Cunningham this year. Our AS pace has quickened since we arrived in town a couple weeks ago with our primary liaison, Lois MacKenzie, the aid station and volunteer coordinator. In Jim's spare time he's helped her with lists and various chores because her task is overwhelming.

He's also enlisted the assistance of other folks in our quest to acquire equipment the race doesn't have, such as a tent for our aid station. We don't need one as big as the rental tent we had last year when we were the last AS on the course. Fortunately, the Wrubliks brought one from one of their races in Arizona that worked perfectly for us -- I showed a photo of it in yesterday's entry after it was in place.

Here are a few photos from Monday when Jimmy Wrublik came out with us to set up the tent. It was like a jigsaw puzzle with all the pieces. Good thing Jimmy remembered how to do it, because Jim and I didn't even know what it was supposed to look like. The three of us got it mostly up when a runner and his crew showed up to see where the aid station was and lent us some more hands to raise the assembled roof onto the upright supports. Thanks, folks!

See? I do more than just take photos! Jim took the one of me above.

We had the tent facing the other direction last year, but a large church group's tent occupies that space now. Our current orientation is actually better in "odd" years when the course goes CCW because it faces the direction in which the runners will be coming down Little Giant Peak and into our AS. The church group knows the race is coming and has been very cooperative. Thanks to them, also.

WEDNESDAY'S PREPARATIONS

After the Potlick we checked on the growing mound of AS supplies in the gym. The mounds would grow bigger by the time we picked ours up on Thursday.

Volunteers were busy filling up boxes with each AS captain's requests. Although some supplies are standard for all stations, such as water, energy drinks, emergency kits, paper goods, and such, each station has special needs depending on location (whether the stuff can be driven in or has to be packed in on volunteers' backs) and time of day/length of time it is open. It's a complicated process.

We also got the volunteer shirts for our aid station crew from Lois and the rest of the equipment we needed from Roger Wrublik (tables, large containers for the Succeed energy drink, etc.) and the rescue squad (chairs). The shirts are beautiful! More about the design below.

We got to spend some quality time with our NC buddy Joe Lugiano, who came to Silverton to be our right-hand man at Cunningham. He's had plenty of experience -- he's the co-RD of the Umstead 100-miler (and the popular 50-miler). He's in charge of timing and statistics there, and has recently "retired" after 18 years of being the race statistician at the Vermont 100. Looks like he's even calculating something in the photo below with Jim:

We visited Joe in Leadville on our way down here. He's been out here this summer acclimating and training for LT100 in August. He had to make a trip back home to NC, though, and just arrived back in Colorado this afternoon. We shared dinner with him at The Brown Bear (our first dinner out in many weeks) and caught up on aid station plans. This is Joe's first visit to Silverton, and unfortunately it was rainy and gloomy all afternoon so he hasn't been able to see how gorgeous it is. Not looking good for the race, but this area of Colorado badly needs the rain.

THURSDAY'S AID STATION ACTIVITIES

Rain off and on all day made our job tougher today. It was raining when we woke up, but by the time Jim arrived at the gym at 8 AM to wash out and fill dozens of red water containers for all the aid stations, it had mostly stopped raining. I photographed the low-hanging clouds over Silverton in all directions, wondering how long the rain would last.

Jim dropped me off at the Laundromat and headed over to the gym. Joe Lugiano and David Gordon (below) were there to assist with the water jugs. It took a couple hours to clean the jugs with a bleach solution, fill them with fresh water, and get the caps and spouts back on just so. Jim did this whole job by himself last year, and was most grateful for Joe's and David's help this year. Thanks, guys!

Figuring out how much water we might need at our AS has been an interesting mental game for Jim and me. How do you determine how much water you need for 135 runners at the first aid station? Will each want to fill an entire hydration bladder or just need 20 oz.? How many energy drinks will they consume? (We have to mix Succeed powder in water.) What will the weather be like -- hot or cold? We couldn't find information from anyone who had actually KNEW how much water has been used in the first aid stations before, so we had to guess.

We ended up filling three five-gallon Gatorade containers, the 50-gallon tank on the back of our truck, and took several of the large red water jugs for a total of about 100 gallons. I was the anal one regarding water, wanting to be sure we had plenty. (Jim's lower guess was more accurate, it turned out.) We also had a water purifier to use if we needed to get more from the creek.

We listened to the beginning of the runners' mandatory race briefing at noon, then went back to the camper to do some things there. We were back in the gym by 2 PM for the nice lunch spread the race provides the volunteers. As we finished eating, we had our own briefing conducted by Lois MacKenzie, AS and volunteer coordinator, and Greg Hine, communications director.

While Jim was listening to the communications information, I inventoried our boxes of supplies and food. Most everything was there except the boiled potatoes. Lois is asking the AS captains this year to let her know what was used and what wasn't so she can better plan for next year. Each year a lot of food comes back from the aid stations. Non-edible things like paper goods and sunscreen can be used from year to year, but edibles need to be better controlled. Lists are right up our alley, so we'll probably have the most complete summary Lois gets back!

After the briefing, between raindrops, we packed the food and supply boxes into the back of the truck with the tables, chairs, and water jugs to take out to the aid station. We piled the runners' colorful drop bags on top (see above). Two or three of the volunteers who'd be helping us planned to camp nearby to keep an eye on the place overnight. Joe and David both helped us unload things into the tent but it was too wet to do any organizing. We just tried to wrap everything in big plastic bags to keep it dry until morning. Thank goodness we had a tent!

This is what Little Giant Peak looked like when we were there:

Several men from the Lutheran men's group came over to help us unload the equipment and supplies. They said they'd been running off people who wanted to camp too close to our tent or stay too many days -- about thirty families, they claimed! We don't know why so many people are out there this year. This particular group comes only once every four years to this location, but we don't know why so many others want to camp there. Little Molas Campground south of town is closed now for renovations, so that may be part of the reason.

Although our volunteers who will be camping near the tent hadn't yet arrived, the church group said they'd be there and watch the goods so we could leave. That was nice! Chris Gerber and his family did arrive a little bit later, and Lynn DiFiore camped down the road a bit so she'd have more privacy. We appreciate them being there to provide "security."

We took the large cooler "home" to our camper to thaw out the red beans and rice and potato soup that had been solidly frozen in gallon plastic bags. Even though we left several of the bags in our kitchen sink overnight, they were still fairly solid on race morning! We also got spaghetti and mac&cheese we won't put out at 8 AM (yuck) but will take to Grouse after our AS closes. They are open in the afternoon and evening when runners will be more willing to want "dinner" food.

On our way back through town we stopped at the gym to fill our water tank for the race. We usually get water at the visitor's center, but a large RV pulled in to get water right before us. We parked next to Hans Dieter-Weisshaar's van camper at the gym and began filling our tank. Hans and Susi came out of the camper and asked if they could fill their tank, too. (There is a special connection and Jim's one of the few people who knows where it's kept.)

Here's Hans with the hose inside the camper (don't ask) and his running companion, Capulin, curiously watching:

 

OTHER RACE ACTIVITIES

WEDNESDAY

While at the gym to check our supplies, we talked with runners coming in for their medical checks. Friends Kathy Lang (an MD) and Trilby (a nurse) and David Gordon (an EMT) were all busy checking in runners. We chatted a bit between "customers." In the photo below, Dale Garland (race director) is on the left, Trilby in the dark top in the back, and Kathy in the red shirt:

We also visited with Heidi Schutt, a special friend of ours from Denver:

She owns Running Delights, a home-based company which specializes in running items. I first met her many years ago when she came to the Atlanta Marathon expo with her goodies. She is the official merchandiser for the Hardrock race and sets up tables (only half the display is shown below) loaded with clothing, energy products, running books, and many other items runners can use. It was great to talk with her several times throughout race weekend.

We marveled over the beautiful race posters from all the previous Hardrock Hundreds. Each year an artist's depiction of part of the course is chosen for the official print that finishers receive. The design is also screen-printed on the back of the volunteers' shirts. We're excited for our friend Deb Pero, whose design was chosen this year. She is a talented artist! This is a print of her original painting of Grant-Swamp Pass as seen from Oscar's Pass:

Congratulations, Deb, for having your beautiful painting chosen this year!

THURSDAY

It's always fun to see the runners and their families at a race like this so we enjoyed greeting folks we hadn't already seen when they came in for the runners' briefing at noon. Runners have come to this race from many states and seven countries. I wish we'd had time to talk longer to them.

We stuck around just long enough to hear John Cappis tell the runners about crew parking at our aid station (on the road, not "inside" near the tent). Other than water, the liveliest discussions Jim and I have had about our AS have been about crew access to the station. We are fearful (especially me) of parking problems. We had no crew problems of any sort last year because they came in sporadically, but this time we expect about a hundred crew vehicles (or more) and several hundred crew members to be at the AS soon after we get there. We do know they'll have to park along the road and walk to the aid station up to a quarter of a mile (not bad by Leadville and Western States standards!).

Jim also has a plan for keeping crews out of the immediate AS area, a technique also used at other large races. Hardrock isn't large, but having 135 runners through our AS in ninety minutes is a big deal. We hope the runners and crews cooperate and understand why we'll do what we plan to do to control people and car traffic.

After we took our equipment and supplies out to the aid station, we went to the pre-race spaghetti dinner at The Bent Elbow with Joe. The dinner is a fund-raiser for the Rescue Squad. Since Jim belongs to the rescue squad at home, we wanted to support Silverton's squad. The food was great and we got to meet a first-time HRH runner from Washington state, John Powell.

We got to bed about 9 PM and set the alarm for 4 AM Friday morning. The rain had stopped. Will it be wet or dry in the morning? Will all our volunteers show up? How will we deal with thirty runners in our AS at once? Can we pull this off without a hitch??

My mind reeled with questions and doubts as I tried to go to sleep . . . I think I was more nervous than if I was running it. Jim hasn't had a good night's sleep in several nights, either.

Next entry: the first day of the race.

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and Tater

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2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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