Monday, April 7, 2014

Umstead 100 Volunteer

April 5 was the 20th running of the Umstead 100 ultramarathon. The race consisted of 8 laps of 12.5 miles each, totaling 100 miles of footrunning. This kind of thing is only for the truly insane, and should not be attempted by people.

However, volunteering at an event like this is pretty incredible.  You don't have to be an ultrarunner to work an aide station or take a lap pacing the competitors. it's still amazing.

This year's push to volunteer more led me back to Umstead to volunteer again. I wanted to do more than just pace this time, so I got signed up to work aide station #2 this year as well.

The volunteer work actually started earlier. Saturday morning we had a program with Bigun's Indian Princess tribe to fill and seal bags of food that are getting to Nicaragua. It was a great program, and I got to take Evil Genius this time too! She's always wanting to get in on that stuff. This program consisted of backbreaking work, we were sealing counting and hauling bags of food around. I figured the sore back and tired legs would come in handy later.

EG didn't want her picture taken

We had some other cool indian princess stuff to take care of in the afternoon, then about 5 pm I got over to Umstead. I checked in first at the headquarters, which was a parking nightmare, and made my way over to aide station #2. AS2 was quite a drive. The course is 12.5 miles, and the station is in mile 6, but getting in and out of the park isn't always easy on race day.

Not your average water stop
AS2 is not a typical water station that you'll see in most other races. They had 2 large grills going, piles of pizza, and snacks in stacks. It takes about 20 people at all times to work the thing. The runners have special needs bags packed and dropped off there at the start. There's about 6 folding tables of food there at all times. The runners come by here 8 times so it's a good setup. Some of the volunteers pull bags and bring the runners food while they sit, others keep the soup cups full and the trays stocked up. It's really a cool place to be.

My plan was to work the aide station until after dark. The pacer pool had me scheduled to pick up a runner at 8 pm. I told the pacer coordinator that I was going to be out at AS2, so I would find someone who needed some help getting back home and run in with them. After dark everyone was looking pretty good, so I found Tim wearing a shirt and asked if he wanted any company.  Turns out he was on lap 6 already and was going to get a pacer out of the pool anyway for his last 2 laps, so I jumped in.

Now I came into the day with a plan. Work the aide station for a couple of hours, then pace somebody for a lap. Maybe a lap and a half if I did end up running back to headquarters. But there was really no need for me to run more than 18 miles.

Turns out, Tim was a really cool dude. We both have daughters, work as software developers, and sing first tenor in the church choir. Trail people will talk the whole time we're running. it was around 8:30 pm when I started running with this guy.  By the time we started out for Lap #7 I grabbed this.

I was trying to cover up the headlamp so the pic wouldn't completely wash out. This was closer to 10 pm? maybe? We were trying to keep each lap around 3 hours. I was just trying to keep him moving forward the whole time, help deal with any injuries or carry (mule) any of his stuff. Since I was keeping him distracted mentally and still running at a pretty good pace he wanted me to keep running for his final lap as well. With about 2 miles left in lap 7 I actually agreed to it. I know what it feels like to run 18 miles, and when I had over 18 miles in the bag, I still felt pretty fresh. Plus I figured his last lap would have a fair amount of walking and recovering as well so I could hang. I really felt like I had the entire last lap in my legs still.

But you know, I didn't really plan on running 31 miles. I'm going to call this an accidental 50k.

Tim's hope was to get in under 22 hours, but the real goal was just to break 24. So around 4:15 am we hit that finish line. I've never been happier for someone else to finish a race. I got my 31 in, which was totally unexpected, and made a new friend in the process.

Me and Tim back in the headquarters

Proud of the belt buckle
I don't know what his official finish time is yet but it's 22:something and he got the sub-24 belt buckle. That's pretty incredible.

Afterwards, I was really not looking forward to hoofing it back to AS2 just so I could drive home. They didn't have a supply truck going out there again for several hours, so I was going to hang out outside in the cold (40*) and wait for either a car to thumb a ride with or a non-finisher to run with. Luckily I ran into Walt, who needed directions to get out of the park and back to AS2 to pick up some of his stuff. Well I was the man for the job. I got a ride back to my car, and helped him load up his coolers & stuff. That all worked out really well and around 6:30 am I pulled into my driveway.

Of course, this really makes me want to run more trail ultras. The environments are incredible. In this case, running through the woods at night has a serious cool factor. The aide stations are totally different and completely well stocked with some amazing food. I had tons of pizza, a hot dog, pancakes, french toast, boiled eggs, m&m's, trail mix, it's all just incredible. The people that do these insane things are some of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.

The flip side of that coin is that I was in no way actually prepared to run 31 miles. And I am waaay too old to be staying out until 6:30 am. So I'm going to be paying for this one for a few days. But I do like my chances of hitting 100 miles on the month now.

Go find an ultra! Volunteer if you don't want to run one.


Abby said...

Amazing - all of it.
That he ran a 100 freaking miles. That you yourself got in huge mileage, and volunteered all day. Wow!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Dang that is amazing. I can not even imagine running 100 miles! That is just nuts! That was so nice of you to volunteer - the aid stations sound amazing! And that is great that they guy you paced was someone that you had so much in common with.

I think that Kyria maybe had a friend or someone she knows from the group she races with that was doing this race!