June 21, 2014
After having completed half marathons every Saturday for 5 weekends in a row, you would think that I would love to have the opportunity to sleep in…but no. I found myself volunteering for the Indiana Women’s Trail Run Half and Quarter Marathon.
It was the inaugural year for it and a of mine (J.P.) was in charge of the event. It was held at Eagle Creek Park, which is only about 30 minutes from my house. Plus, I know how important volunteers are so this was my way of giving back. I’ve volunteered at other events (5Ks, triathlons, etc.) but this would be my first trail run.
I needed to be at the hydration station by 7:30AM. Although I’ve been to Eagle Creek Park numerous times, I’ve never really gone in further than the beach area where the triathlons are held. So this was uncharted territory for me and I really wasn’t sure where I was supposed to go. Luckily, I saw a volunteer setting up signs further in the park and he told me to keep going and that I wouldn’t miss it. He was correct! I got my T-shirt and then walked (maybe two-tenths of a mile) down to the water station. I was a little late getting there (SHOCK! But I had to get my coffee on the way) and they already had the Gatorade – technically Powerade – mixed up. So we mostly sat around for a bit and talked. I was there with one other girl and three guys. Everyone was really nice.
They said that we could expect our first runner around 8:15AM so we started filling cups at about 8:00AM. We were lucky that our area was in the shade. The women would be running slightly uphill toward us in FULL SUN and then would turn right heading into the trails. The quarter marathon runners had light purple bibs and would make one loop. The half marathoners had a darker purple bib and would make two loops. I think all of these other volunteers were also trail runners so they knew several of the participants.
I saw my friend A.L. come through and she asked why I wasn’t DOING this event. Truth be told, I was a little afraid to do it. I’ve never done a trail run and with my goal of completing 31 half marathons this year I certainly didn’t want to take any chances of tripping, falling and breaking a necessary running bone!
It warmed up very quickly out there, although we were quite comfortable since it was shady in our area. Some of the ladies really looked like they were struggling a bit by the time they got to us. And we were just a little over 3 miles into the race. One lady came running in to our area certain that there was a man that was moving flags along the course. She described him to us and it was one of the folks that had been setting the course. He stopped at our table earlier in the day before the race started. It took quite a bit of convincing to reassure her that he was with the event and had actually been placing flags not picking them up.
There was quit a bit of a lull before the half marathoners came around for the second time. I turned on the music on my iPhone and it helped pass the time. And thankfully they brought each of us a cupcake. I meant to pack a snack for myself but had forgotten. By the time 10:00AM rolled around I was really getting hungry.
When the half marathoners came through for a second time, many people were stopping and taking multiple cups of water or Gatorade. One lady came through and was in desperate need of a Band-Aid. Luckily one of the male volunteers had a first aid kit in his truck which was next to our station. Her socks were too short and the back of her heel was rubbed raw! We had another lady come through that had crashed at some point during the first lap. Her chin was had a “raspberry” on it, her knee and elbow were scraped up and she had blood running down her leg. But she didn’t want any “assistance” at that time and said she felt fine. I wonder how sore she was the next day.
Some of the runners were all business out there but it was nice when those toward the back of the pack would stop and chat with us. We tried to keep things very light and did what ever we could for them to make the day a little more pleasant.
After the last runners came through we cleaned up and were dismissed. Maybe it was because most people were actually stopping at this aid station so it was easier for them to throw their cups away in the trash cans but we didn’t have to pick up many discarded cups.
I decided to go to the start/finish line and tell J.P. that I had fun volunteering and congrats on what seemed to be a successful race. I decided to stay and cheer those last runners in. I made sure that each one of them got my best whistling and hollering! Then I ended up staying even longer to help them clean up and pack the truck. And – SCORE – they had lots of cupcakes leftovers so I got to bring two home.
Here are some photos from the start/finish area that I took:
I’ll admit that I did have some “run envy” while being a volunteer…even though it looked like it was REALLY hard! And the medal was super cute. So I may just have to put this on the schedule for next real.
I probably should find some 5K or 10K trail runs to do first and get some trail shoes….DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS.
And while leaving the park, I saw this professional trail runner: