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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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:
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
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,
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
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
While at the gym to check our supplies, we talked with runners coming in for their
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
We also visited with Heidi Schutt, a special friend of ours from
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
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
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.
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody, and
© 2007 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil