Did you run the Mohican 100 last weekend?
I didn’t. But I probably filled up your water bottle and I probably smelled you. I hope you smelled me, too.
At the suggestion of a friend, I volunteered to work this race with the intent of learning more about the sport. Little did I expect the race director, Ryan O’Dell, to offer me the esteemed position of Aid Station Captain. What was he thinking? The aid station captain is supposed to be an experienced ultra runner. Experienced ultra runner I am not.
Well, the code was easily cracked. Ultra runners are merely fat kids in sinewy tanned bodies. They just want snacks! Snacks and naps. I sort of learned this last weekend. I GET these people.
I was Commodore of Fire Tower. As a true dictator, I ordered my underlings to do my bidding as I sat back and had a Heed margarita (hydrates and dehydrates at the SAME TIME). Of course I roped Eric into this without hesitation (he’s really good at carrying things and his disobedience is usually manageable), but I also convinced my dear friend Ashley C that it would be “camping and giving snacks to people- fun!”
I didn’t realize how much SHIT there was to carry! I thought jugs of water just appeared in the woods! And I certainly never thought I would have to carry said jugs of water, tables, tents and other heavy things. I didn’t expect to be setting up the aid station well into the night and into the next morning, only to wake at 4:00am to continue preps! I mostly didn’t expect my dear hubby and my dear friend Ashley to be right there beside me (actually in front of me – they are both much stronger) lugging stuff back and forth through the night. I’m sorry, guys.
The good news is that I had literally 5’s of 19-year-olds show up at 4:30am (half an hour before race start) to make PB&J’s, cut watermelon wedges and pour drinks in anticipation of the runners arriving to the Mighty Fire Tower aid station.
Fire Tower is seen on this map. If you’ll notice, this station straddles a junction between a red line and a green line. These lines are the “long” loop and the “short” loop. Of note: not a single runner appreciated that the “short loop” was only 4-ish miles shorter than the long loop.
Marathon – 1 long loop.
50 Miler – 1 long loop + 1 short loop.
100 Miler – 2 long loops + 2 short loops.
Fire Tower Aid Station – tell 600+ runners which loop to take for their current lap. No big deal. **FREAK OUT**
Of course, ours was the most important and awesomest of aid stations. We had to track runners and record their arrival times, we had to feed and water them, and we had to keep them on the correct path. This is all manageable until your 10 19-year-olds have to go home for the night leaving you, your husband and your friend to deal with the remaining runners. Luckily our amazing Cleveland neighbors, Bogden and Miriam, showed up and helped us out immensely!
The exciting points occurred when all the fiddies (50 miles) and hunnies (hundred milers… do you think they appreciate these derogatory terms?) arrived at our station on the first lap (within an hour-ish time period) and then two hours later when all the marathon runners showed up. At one point 20 or so runners rolled in. We just kinda threw snacks into mouths and hoped for the best. Turns out trail runners are pretty low-key about their aid stations (until 3:00 am the next morning when all they want is hot soup and all you got are Skittles…)
Eric, Ashley and I hardly got any sleep Friday night because we were setting up. We worked the station into Sunday morning, so Saturday night was fairly sleepless. I’m not sure if it was the sleep deprivation or what, but Fire Tower was PFM that night. Our HAM radio operator (he insisted on referring to himself that way even though he only had a VHF radio and didn’t even use correct nerdy terminology (which I know because I’m a damned boat driver (are imbedded parentheses allowed to this level?))) strung really cool led lights down the trail and we pumped tunes all night. We each took shifts where we were solely responsible for logging arrival times, filling bottles and making snackies. I enjoyed this night on so many levels. The runners were, at this point, spending more time at the aid station. It was fun to chat with them and ask them what what was going through their minds, and if they realized how close they were to finishing an epic accomplishment. Most of them couldn’t even believe they had a mere 16 miles to go on that last lap.
I especially liked how pacers and their runners interacted. After having tried to be a pacer last weekend, it was cool to see what it ACTUALLY MEANS to be a pacer. The pacers were a pick-me-up to ME, even. They are like little rays of sunshine in the night, all positive and encouraging. They smell exponentially better than their runners and are usually able to operate those super tricky roll-top Nathan (I think North Face, too) bladders. One of the pacers was stoked to find out we had fresh coffee. He tossed the cup I handed to him aside and went straight for the bin of grounds. He grabbed a handfull and stuffed them into his lip! Most badass act of the night…
Look at this dude’s toe!
And finally, the expected outcome of being surrounded by elite athletes…
Will I be able to run 100 miles in a year? Hmmm… Guess you’ll have to keep wasting your time on this blog to find out.
Bur first, I have to survive the Summer of Muskrat. Only 70 more days to go.