On Octboer 15, 2011 I was able to volunteer at the Mountain View Trail Half Marathon on Antelope Island as the sweeper. I think sweeping is fun in races for a variety of reasons:
- You get to start late
- You are expected to finish last (or near the end)
- You avoid the crowds at the start of the race
- Volunteering helps you appreciate Race Directors and the volunteer efforts
Actually – if you have never volunteered for a race and have run in several races, can I just say, “Shame on you!” I think volunteering should be mandatory for every 5 or 10 races that you participate in. People who never take any effort to thank the volunteers as they race by need to quit thinking of themselves and do so. (Note: If you are winning the race at the moment, you can do this later. Since I will never win a race – this is not an issue for me.)
Beautiful drive up to the island. It was going to be a nice, sunny day. The race started at 9:00 a.m. and I got there a few minutes before to hassle Jim Skaggs about his Buffalo cap. (A treasure I found up in Yellowstone and felt was totally appropriate for the RD of the Buffalo Run). Once the race started, I waited about 12 minutes and headed out myself.
The race starts with a loop around the White Rock Bay campgrounds and then cuts over to the trails by the buffalo pens. After a bit on the jeep trail and some bushwacking, at mile 3 you turn onto the Mountain View Trail and follow it out to the Ranch. I started out running 3 minutes and walking 1 minute and figured I would probably catch the last place runner by Frary Peak. The trail was reaping the benefit of a wet spring and summer and was pretty overgrown. Some of the grassy sections has grass over my head and it was like running in a tunnel. A neat feeling to be totally surrounded and you basically could only see a few feet ahead. The sunflower sections were more painful and I was surprised I wasn’t really scraped up when the race was done. They were pretty – but I could have used a little less pretty.
Nice sunny day, great temperatures and the legs felt strong. At the first aid station at mile 5 I asked where the last place runners were and was told they were 2 miles ahead. Mentally, that let me know they were probably less than a half mile ahead. Volunteers rarely get these things right – unless they say 20 seconds or something like that. When I reached the next aid station at Frary Peak, I could see a couple about 100 yards ahead – so knew that my guess was much closer. Talked with the volunteers at the aid station for about 5 minutes to allow the runners to get farther ahead and then headed out again.
About one mile from the finish I finally caught the runners and they asked me to go ahead. Since they were looking strong, I took off again. I finished sweeping the half in a little over 3 hours. Not bad considering how many times I stopped to let the runners get a head start.
Ate some hamburger, then switched over to driving a bunch of runners back to the start in Karen Skaggs’ pickup truck. Helped take down the course and then Jim dropped me back at the start. It was a wonderful way to spend the day. Out of cell range, in the sunlight, outdoors and no buffalo scares.
To finish off the day, as I drove out of the campground, an antelope slowly sauntered across the road about 10 feet in front of me, so I just sat there and enjoyed watching it.