We've been experiencing some unseasonably warm and dry days here..until a few days before the Shotgun Trail Blast. Then things turned more typical- wet and wetter. I had the Shotgun Trail Blast on my radar but was unable to race it this year. Since I am still pretty new to trails and trail races, I thought I might volunteer this for fun anyway.
|Racers at the start of the 50k- Different waves for each distance|
When I went to relieve the first shift, I found 2 ladies standing on the muddy trail by the table, wearing soaking-wet sweatshirts. I can only assume they were there from 9am until I got there at 12. It had been raining non-stop. They seemed glad to see me and quickly made their way back downhill.
For the next three hours I was water-girl, Gatorade-girl, gel dispenser, keeper-of-the-first-aid-box, and cheerleader. I loved it!
Under my rain coat, I wore 3 layers of shirts and stayed mostly warm by walking up and down a stretch of about 40 yards so I could see if anyone was coming. There weren't a load of racers in the combined 25-50k, so there were some longer stretches with no one coming through. I passed the time filling cups, arranging gel packages and hiking my little track. I also timed myself at wall-sits against a fir tree several times. :)
Photos with permission from Long Run Picture Company
Whenever racers appeared I cheered and also asked to see how they were feeling. There were a few complaints about being "done" or "wet", but most were happy to keep moving through. The station was at a slippery downhill hair-pin turn, and I saw several racers almost bite it. Luckily there were no accidents, but as the race wore on, the mud got thicker and slicker.
The last racers came through at about 3:20pm. I packed up the folding table, garbage bag, first aid box, and made a short hike back to the finish line shelter. Some delicious, hot food catered by Qdoba, was waiting for me there (Or maybe it was for the racers, but there was enough for me too..).
A few things I took away from the experience:
- It was surprising how many people wore regular trainers. It was muddy and trail shoes are the only way to go in those conditions. Mud just cakes onto regular trainers and makes them very heavy.
- It didn't appear that anyone brought a change of clothes after the race, or for changing into during. I offered a shirt to a lady but she didn't take it. Perhaps it would have been wet in 5 minutes. I hate wearing a rain coat to run in, but I hate being cold more.
- Nearly everyone coming through on the trail said "thank you" . This happens at other races I have volunteered, but I think the trail racers are especially thankful to see another body there for them - just in case.
- The race company, eclectic edge, does a great job organizing their races. I enjoy volunteering, but they also offer a discount on future races for volunteers as an incentive- a nice gesture. There were loads of medals, awards and random prizes- and lots of wet, dirty but satisfied, finishers.
- For sure, this was a challenging course. The first man might have passed me only once in my shift, but was running well and it still took him 4:38 for the 50K. The first female finished in 5:46, and she was definitely running. Trails just can't compare with road times.
I'll be heading back there once things dry out a bit, as there is a fantastic trail network at Shotgun Creek- (though beware of many roots and rocks). Hopefully I can slosh through the mud next April with a bib on, but after this weekend, I'll know what to expect!